January 3, 2015

Is it the end of the road for Press Pass? But it feels like they just got here

Press Pass may be closing, according to a tweet from ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell. Currently, I haven’t seen confirmation of this anywhere else.
Having said that, I imagine Rovell wouldn’t put that out there if he didn’t feel comfortable about his information. Couple that with rumors over the last year, loss of personnel, and a massive decrease in the amount of product Press Pass planned to put out, it’s news that certainly seems credible.

Press Pass started in 1992. It was a game-changer – and I don’t say that lightly. Press Pass was the first company to use game-used memorabilia in its product when it included race-used tires in 1996. It was also the first company to put game-used jerseys in basketball memorabilia cards. Now, you know who to thank for all that.

But we are not going to re-hash the company’s history. We’ll leave that to others.

Instead, let’s look at some of Press Pass’ interesting cards from over the years.

Press Pass took tires from winning cards from the 1995 season, cut them into pieces and put them into cards. Each card was numbered to 500. All these years later, these cards are still popular with NASCAR fans. These cards can go for $30 or more when they hit the secondary market.

Jersey cards appeared in basketball for the first time with Press Pass. These cards were issued into packs at a rate of 1:640 in hobby and 1:720 in retail. There were just four cards in this college set with Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Ray Allen and Shareef Abdul-Rahim.

In 1997, Press Pass put out a 49-card, full-bleed photography set. It featured players in their college uniforms. The set also included a handful of coach cards. According to Beckett, card #48 Joe Paterno was pulled from the set close to release, however, a handful still made it out making it a rare collectible.

Press Pass started with football cards in 1996, but its first mega-star on cards probably came in 1998 with Peyton Manning. The company featured autographs that year with the likes of Ryan Leaf, Shaun Williams and … Peyton Manning.

Press Pass also created a special edition autograph that year of a Manning autograph that was only available at a SportsFest show in Philadelphia.

Two years later, Press Pass got another big star in the making. It had many top prospects for the 2000 NFL season – Plaxico Burress, Shaun Alexander, Ron Dayne, Jamal Lewis, Brian Urlacher – and then a guy named Tom Brady.

Press Pass lost the college license in the early 2010s. While it still made football cards with no college or NFL logos, it attempted to branch out a bit further with Yo Gabba Gabba stickers, KISS and other releases. In 2013, it announced at the Industry Summit it acquired a license to produce cards for Parks and Recs. It included autographs and wardrobe cards of all the big names such as Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe, Nick Offerman, Paul Rudd and more.

High-end NASCAR

Here is a look at what Press Pass was doing lately with NASCAR. It developed high-end products that included everything it could take from a car or a driver to include in cards. Danica Patrick is popular with trading card collectors. Her autograph cards usually sell for over $100


  1. Parks and Rec is so great, I was really looking forward to another release in the near future.

  2. This is devastating news for a NASCAR collector like myself. We have nothing now to look forward to. That's never a good thing for the hobby. Even when Fleer went under, in other sports, we still had other companies. Press Pass has held the exclusive for NASCAR since 2001. The talk is no other company wants to deal with the licensing involved and that no more cards are on the horizon any time soon. I hope that rumor turns out to be false.

    I wrote a little eulogy to Press Pass for my own blog, along with a look back at their main set designs from beginning to end. (http://cardboardhistory.blogspot.com/2015/01/its-end-of-world-as-we-know-it-end-of.html)