Boxing,  MLB,  NBA,  NFL

The Downsides of Player-Worn Material in Sports Trading Cards

For someone who’s new to collecting, it can be both thrilling and somewhat overwhelming to navigate the wide array of card types available for collection. In recent years, cards featuring player-worn memorabilia have gained significant popularity. This memorabilia can encompass a variety of items, including player-worn jerseys, gloves, patches, and more.

When you encounter the term “player worn,” it’s natural to assume that it refers to material worn during an actual game. However, this assumption is not accurate. If you’re after memorabilia actually worn in a game, you should be looking for “game-worn” material. “Player worn” material simply signifies that the player has worn it at some point.

Back in the late ’90s when I first collected football cards, I’m fairly certain that player-worn memorabilia cards weren’t even in existence. So, when I opened the blaster box and came across this card, I immediately assumed it was worn by Mariota during an Oregon game. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. To the best of my knowledge, this card doesn’t even come with any specific serial number to indicate its rarity.

You might not be aware, but companies like Panini and others often have a stack of jerseys or other memorabilia, and they have players briefly wear each item one after the other just so they can label it as “player worn.” So, even though you might believe you’re acquiring a card with memorabilia used in a game, you’re essentially obtaining a piece of material that may have been worn for as little as 30-60 seconds.

Player-worn material is saturating the market for game-worn material. Companies like Panini are employing player-worn material as a cost-effective means to mass-produce “hits” in card packs. As long as collectors are content with “player worn” material, the market for “game-worn” material will continue to dwindle. Game-worn material is more expensive to obtain, and its scarcity is influenced by the limited number of games the NFL holds each year in comparison to other sports.

Does Player-Worn Material really add value to Trading Card?

Having players briefly don jerseys or gloves for 15-45 seconds at a time allows these card companies to create an unlimited supply of seemingly “rare” items that they can present as valuable hits in packs, even though they lack real tangible worth.

One more crucial point to consider is that the player-worn material may not even have been worn by the player featured on the card. The information on the back of the cards merely states, “The enclosed player-worn material is guaranteed by Panini America, Inc.” It doesn’t specify that the material was actually worn by the player on the card. There have been cases, such as those mentioned by RomoCollector on BlowoutForums, where the patches in the cards did not match the player but were labeled with another player’s name, like Dak Prescott.

Now, let’s address the issue of rookies. Some argue that it’s impossible to produce game-worn NFL items for rookies until they’ve actually played in a game. In my opinion, producing player-worn material cards for NFL rookies is acceptable and possibly worth collecting, but even then, I would prefer to pass on the memorabilia unless it significantly enhances the overall appearance of the card.

I have been collecting memorabilia for half of my life. I started very small with a few trading cards and since then I am more and more interested in the subject. I read a lot in Facebook groups, collect especially Jordan memorabilia. I'm happy if you like my content.

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