With some enticing rookie cards to tout this season, the 2014 Bowman football set will be an exciting one for collectors who enjoy rookie cards. Sure, veterans are represented too, but Bowman’s focus remains on up-and-coming players.
Rookies a collector can expect to find include No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, ex- Central Florida star Blake Bortles, former Plant High standouts Aaron Murray and James Wilder Jr., Sammy Watkins, and Bucs rookies Mike Evans, Robert Herron, Charles Sims and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Am I forgetting anyone? Oh yeah, Johnny Football, too.
Johnny Manziel also will be a favorite among collectors, but the Browns’ rookie quarterback is not prominently displayed in the set. Packers running back Eddie Lacy graces the hobby box cover and wrappers for this year’s set.
Speaking of the hobby box, here is the breakdown. There are 10 large packs, with 25 cards to a pack. Each pack contains a mini-card that is designed in the format of 1950 Bowman football. Red ink parallels for these mini-cards are numbered to five, and some of them are autographed.
It’s a lot of fun to take out one of these brick-sized packs and open it; there is plenty of anticipation, knowing that Topps is promising four chrome refractor, on-card rookie autographs and one relic featuring a veteran player.
The card design is clean and is vertical on the card front, which I enjoy so much more than horizontal. Information on the card back is introduced with a “Next In Line” headline and an additional lead-in that reads “The Next Coming” in capital letters. The rookie card backs are missing that lead-in, perhaps because we all don’t know what’s coming next.
The base set consists of 110 veterans and the same number of rookies. The box I opened featured 70 veteran base cards and 20 parallels. There were 80 rookie base cards and 37 parallels. In addition, there were 15 chrome parallels (not numbered). But there are numbered parallel cards in various colors.
Here are the numbered parallels I pulled: a blue card of former Florida State star (and Buffalo Bills quarterback) EJ Manuel numbered to 99, and a red of Raiders’ draft pick Gabe Jackson, numbered to 199. Patriots rookie James White is displayed on an orange parallel numbered to 299. Four gold parallels also were pulled from the box I opened, all rookie cards numbered to 399 — De’Anthony Thomas (Chiefs), Deone Bucannon (Cardinals), Donte Moncrief and Will Sutton (Bears).
A hobby box also contains, on average, two silver ice cards – the ones I pulled were of Bridgewater and veteran Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.
The die-cut cards fall three to a hobby box and are shiny and colorful. They are perhaps the most attractive cards in the set. The cards I pulled included a pair of wide receivers (Jordy Nelson and Wes Welker) and a tight end (Julius Thomas).
The four autographs I pulled were all on-card signatures and boldly written. The signature of former LSU safety Craig Loston is particularly decorative, with the final pen stroke running off the right side of the card. That, to me, is a fantastic autograph by the free agent who was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other refractor autographs included the Bucs’ Herron, Tampa Bay’s sixth-round draft choice out of Wyoming; and C. J. Fiedorowicz, the former Iowa tight end drafted in the second round by the Houston Texans.
The final autograph was inked on a 1950-style Bowman mini and featured the signature of former Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson, who was drafted in the second round by the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
The final hot card was a relic of Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones. There is a generous red swatch in the lower left-hand side of the card, and the design is horizontal.
Bowman football has a clean design and the photography is sharp. It’s a nice product for set builders and offers some nice opportunities for autograph collectors, too.