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After Resolving Differences, NFL Back On Topps With New Partnership Deal

Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees gets a passing grade in Topps 2010 NFL series.April 29, 2010: Topps, which has been producing iconic sports and entertainment trading cards since 1938, has signed a multi-year trading card licensing agreement with the National Football League and NFL Players, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFL Players Association. The deal comes about five months after NFLPA decided not to renew its deal with Topps and to grant licenses to rivals Upper Deck and Panini.

Neither the NFL of NFLPA offered an explanation as to why Topps is back, only to state that the "deal will allow Topps to continue its strong history of offering collectors the industry’s most sought-after football cards." Financial details were not disclosed.

In November, trading card industry bible Beckett wrote about the move not to renew its deal with Topps, "Players Inc’s decision to move forward with just Panini and Upper Deck comes after months of thorough investigation and evaluation of a current football card marketplace still reeling from the troubled economy. The move also represents the latest bombshell in a continued streamlining of the overall sports collectibles industry that has seemingly seen a life’s worth of monumental licensing changes in 2009 alone."

Topps, owned by investment company Tornante under the direction of Michael Eisner, said it would unveil its first product of the season, Topps Football, just prior to the start of the 2010 NFL season. The set will include a special "Gridiron Giveaway" promotion, which would allow collectors to unlock vintage Topps football cards and win football prizes. The set is expected to include the rookie cards of No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Ndamukong Suh.

Although gaining in popularity, football cards rank a distant second in the trading card category to baseball cards. This season, Topps became the exclusive trading card partner of Major League Baseball. The company recently had its first nationwide rollout of its Attax series, which combines traditional baseball card trading with fantasy sports attributes. In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Twins new stadium, Target Field, opened with a wall dedication to the team's all-time great players as pictured with giant Topps baseball cards.
“We are excited to continue our deep, long standing partnership with the NFL and the NFLPA,”  Ryan O’Hara, CEO of The Topps Company, said in a statement. “Topps will bring innovative, exciting and fun products to the marketplace to serve consumers and customers well.”
According to Keith Gordon, President of NFL Players, “Topps has been instrumental in establishing the player-fan connection for more than 50 years. We’re excited about the direction Topps is headed and are eager to see new products that will further enable football collectors to connect with our players.”

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