By Barry Janoff
August 1, 2014: In what was described as a "monumental" and an "historic" alliance, NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFL Players Assn., and Panini America have signed a long-term deal making the company the exclusive manufacturer of NFLPA-licensed trading cards and collectible stickers beginning with the 2016 NFL season.
Financial terms and number of years in the pact were not disclosed.
Panini, which has exclusive deals with the NBA, NHL, NHL Players Assn., MLB Players and FIFA World Cup, said that the alliance with NFLPI "positions Panini to further its global expansion of the football trading card and sticker business."
The NFLPI also has a current deal with Topps, which will not be renewed after the 2015 season.
Panini and NFLPA previously worked together when the collectibles company became the presenting sponsor of the 2014 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this past January.
Panini America has worked with NFLPA to obtain rights for player images that appear on cards. In addition, Panini America has had a presence at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere, which takes place every May in Los Angeles and brings together for several days more than 35 incoming NFL players and their agents and representatives from official league partners.
Panini America also has exclusive deals with such NFL players as Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, in addition to players including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin.
“This is a monumental announcement for Panini America and we are honored to have earned this exclusive long-term agreement with NFL Players Inc.,” Mark Warsop, COE for Panini America, based in Irving, Texas, said in a statement. “It’s a tremendous honor to be moving forward on an exclusive basis and it will give us greater ability to work together more strategically at growing the football trading card and sticker category.”
“This is a monumental announcement for Panini America and we are honored to have earned this exclusive long-term agreement with NFL Players Inc."
According to Keith Gordon, president for NFLPI, “We feel very confident in Panini America’s ability to deliver quality and value to consumers at all levels, while providing long-term stability to the football trading card category. Significant investments in product innovation, quality, authenticity and creative player marketing have endeared Panini to the existing fan base, while actively cultivating the next generation of collectors.”
The pact was unveiled in Cleveland this past weekend in conjunction with the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention.
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