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NFL Experience Set Part of the Super Bowl Show

by Paul Angilly
February 1, 2005

Topps is once again sponsoring the annual NFL Experience and its accompanying Super Bowl Card Show this year, and the company is continuing its tradition of issuing special card sets available only at the event.

This year’s 14th annual NFL Experience is being held on the grounds of JEA Park in Jacksonville, Fla. It began Saturday, and many of the exclusive cards available at the show are already being offered on eBay. The event will continue Thursday through Sunday.

For the fourth straight year, Topps is offering a special set for the Super Bowl card show, exclusively through dealers participating in the show. This year’s 18-card set features the 2004 Topps base-brand design with the official Super Bowl logo at the upper left and "Super Bowl XXXIX" printed in foil across the remainder of the top of the card (where the team name would appear on regular 2004 Topps cards).

The Philadelphia Eagles are represented in the set by Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens, while the Patriots’ only player in the set is Tom Brady. The host Jacksonville Jaguars are well-represented in the set, with Fred Taylor, Byron Leftwich and Jimmy Smith all appearing.

The remainder of the checklist includes: LaDainian Tomlinson, Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, Eli Manning, Priest Holmes, Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Michael Clayton, Roy Williams, Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger.

The cost of the set was not mentioned in a release from Topps, but in past years it has carried a $19.99 suggested retail price. There are also a very limited number of black-bordered parallel sets available.

This year, Topps is also selling an exclusive 26-card 2004 Bowman Chrome Set, which is available at the company’s gift booth at the show. Attendees purchasing the 26-card set or any other gift item will also receive a special Super Bowl 6-card set featuring Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady.

Another highlight of the Super Bowl show will be an eight-card set of Jaguars players, with each of the four major NFL card manufacturers (Donruss/Playoff, Fleer, Topps and Upper Deck) contributing two cards to the set. The cards are available as a free giveaway for collectors who open packs of cards at each company’s booth.

Fleer will make cards for Fred Taylor and Ernest Wilford, while Topps will produce cards of Greg Jones and Jimmy Smith. Donruss/Playoff and Upper Deck had not announced their plans as of late last week.

At last year’s show in Houston, the four companies combined on an eight-card set of Texans players. At the 2003 show in San Diego, the five major companies (including Pacific), plus Sports Collector’s Digest and Tuff Stuff magazines combined to create a 12-card set of Chargers players. The 2002 show in New Orleans featured a five-card Troy Aikman set (one card from each manufacturer), while a similar five-card set of Dan Marino was available at the 2001 show in Tampa, Fla. A planned sixth card from Collector’s Edge for the Marino set was never made after that company went out of business.

Exclusive trading cards have been a staple of the Super Bowl Card Show since the first NFL Experience event was held in Minnesota in 1992 (in conjunction with Super Bowl XXVI). The NFL itself produced the first-ever show-specific set, with its 1991-92 NFL Experience offering of 28 oversized (2½-by-4¾-inch) cards with artwork commemorating each of the first 26 Super Bowls.

Beckett Publications sold to media company: According to an official release, Apprise Media LLC, a niche media company backed by Spectrum Equity Investors, announced this past week that it has acquired Beckett Publications, a leading publisher of sports and entertainment market collectible guides, along with Beckett.com and Beckett Grading Services. The company will be renamed Beckett Media LP. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"For more than 20 years, Beckett has dominated the market for print and interactive collectible card guides, both in sports-oriented sectors including baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and auto racing, as well as the anime area of entertainment such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh," said Charles G. McCurdy, Chairman and CEO of Apprise Media, according to the release. "We plan to continue to improve the company’s electronic information delivery platform and expand its focus on fee-based specialty services like grading/certification, while seeking new product and service segments."

Dr. James Beckett, who founded Beckett in 1984, will remain with Beckett Media LP as an advisor.

"This company has had remarkable growth over the last 20 years, both in print and electronic media," Dr. Beckett said. "I am delighted to hand it over to Apprise Media, which has an excellent track record in growing niche media businesses, both print and interactive. I am very confident that Apprise, working with the Beckett Publications team, will take the company to the next level."

The first order of business for Beckett Media LP was the placement of a new CEO, and on Wednesday, Peter A. Gudmundsson, 41, was named to fill that role. Gudmundsson will work with Beckett’s senior management to expand the company’s product and service offerings.

Gudmundsson’s past professional experiences include founding Dallas-based Design Guide Publishing Ltd, and serving as President and CEO of Jobs.com, an Internet employment services company.

"Beckett is a strong company with the most powerful and best-recognized brand in the sports and specialty market collectibles world," Gudmundsson said. "I look forward to working with the senior management team and Jim Beckett to grow the company through new products and services that extend the value of the Beckett brand."

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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