The Alliance of American Football is a new professional league, but the company making its sports cards is a familiar name to collectors – Topps, which secured an exclusive trading card deal with the fledgling football league.
Topps unveiled its debut AAF set on March 22, showcasing players, coaches, assistants and league personnel in a 175-card base set. The eight teams in the league the AAF’s inaugural season are the Arizona Hotshots, Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet.
It is the first time Topps has had a license for a pro football league since 2016. It’s not the first time Topps has produced cards of a league other than the NFL. It had sets for the old AFL during the 1960s – exclusively from 1964 to 1967 when Topps lost its NFL license to the Philadelphia Gum Co. — the USFL in 1984 and 1985, and the XFL in 2001.
Those are the big names pulled from the blaster box I bought. Players with NFL experience included Christian Hackenberg, Trent Richardson and Denard Robinson.
While Topps promises three autographs per hobby box, the odds are much less for blaster boxes. Nevertheless, the blaster I bought contained an on-card signature of Stallions running back Sam Mobley. Collectors can also find parallels for autograph cards, with purple (numbered to 5) and black (1/1).
There are 10 packs in a blaster, with 10 cards to a pack. The design is vertical on the card front, with a full-bleed color photograph. The posed shots are crisp, but some of the action shots lean toward the murky side.
The card backs also have a vertical design, with the card number in the top right-hand corner. The team logo is directly below the number, with the player’s name and position slanted. Vital statistics appear to the left of the player’s position. The type is small, but readable.
A seven line biography dominates the center of the card back, and the type is larger and has a sharper look. The type, set inside a hexagon, is black against a marble-like background.
In addition to the autograph, the other non-base card was a Future Stars insert of Arizona running back Larry Rose. This 25-card insert set also has parallels in gold (numbered to 25), green (10), purple (5) and red (1/1).
Overall, the 2019 Topps Alliance of American Football is an intriguing set. Some of the names may appear obscure now, but if the league gains more traction, some of the players could become more familiar to fans and collectors alike.