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Panini Got This One Right!

Recently, I was thrilled to see the changes made to the “rookie card” identifier inside 2023 Panini Flawless Collegiate Football.

For almost ten years, I have dedicated my spare time to studying the nuances of our beloved rookie cards, whether through my website,, or my YouTube channel, Victor, The Rookie Card Specialist.

A grievance I’ve had against Panini America is their misuse of the RC logo. For some time now, they have applied an RC logo on all the cards of an athlete, even when these athletes are clearly in their collegiate uniforms. However, for the 2023 Flawless Collegiate, they opted to use, for the first time, a “PC” logo identifying these as Prospect Cards! 

A new identifying system has been my heart's cry for years now. In my opinion, collegiate products should NOT have RC identifiers added to them. Why not? First, card manufacturers have pushed collegiate products into the hobby since the early nineties.

But time after time, the hobby's reaction has been meh! Kinda cool, but as soon as the pro-level RCs come out, most of the desire and values fall hard. Today, Fanatics is providing Bowman University with fantastic cards, and I believe there is a sect within the hobby that loves collegiate cards and by all means card manufacturers should continue to provide these great cards to collectors.

However, historically and traditionally, the hobby has never identified these as rookie cards. Since the early eighties, the hobby has time-tested standards that define what a rookie card is. In 2006, the Player’s Association legally modified these hobby rules, and guess what? Collegiate cards miss the mark.

The loophole is found in the Player’s Association decree that a rookie card should only be produced once the athlete has entered a pro-level roster. So now we split hairs as to what precisely a “pro-level” roster is. 

Some collectors will undoubtedly say that they are considered pros once they make it to the collegiate level or get drafted. I respect this position and understand it. But I disagree. I am in the camp that says they are semi-pro. Moreover, I don’t believe that was the original intent of the rule when the PA wrote it.

If you were around before 2006, you know manufacturers were in a race to be the first to market with a particular athlete’s rookie card. The lengths they would go to to be the first are too vast to get into here. But this brought much displeasure to dealers and eventually confusion amongst collectors, leading to the PA involvement.

However, Panini is on the verge of great things. They scored a touchdown on this drive, at least. Adding a Prospect Card identifier to a prospect player in a collegiate uniform just fits like a glove. It’s so appropriate, applicable, correct, proper, true, and dare I say FLAWLESS, pun intended. It is a good thing, and Panini got this one right!

I’m wondering if this is mere research and development on their part. Or perhaps they are looking to see what sticks. Well, I give this two thumbs up! And I hope this continues. Ultimately, I’m looking for lines of clarity. 

My goal? It is to create systems that help us correctly identify and then categorize for the sake of clarity. Not to diminish what a card is but to simply call it what it is and not what we want it to be. This is important because, my friends, not all rookie cards are created equal. Ultimately, these prospect cards are fantastic-looking and are more desirable to me now.

My last article was titled 2024 The Year of Getting Smarter!” This is definitely a step in that direction. 

Until next month,



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