When a new sports league is launched, there are a number of things that have to happen for the venture to be successful. Of course, the product has to be good because without that there won’t be many fans that come to the games. You also have to have a good television deal so that the league has exposure to as many fans as possible.
An upstart league also needs to have cool looking jerseys and other apparel for fans to purchase and with that also comes a desire for sports card collectors to jump on board. The original XFL in 2001 had cards produced by Topps and so will the new XFL that launches next weekend.
“The team here at Topps is extremely excited to be back working with the XFL on new trading cards,” said Jeremy Fullerton, Brand Manager for The Topps Company. “We produced cards for the original season and can’t wait to highlight the new teams and players for the reimagined league.”
The new XFL will have eight teams including the New York Guardians who will play at MetLife Stadium. The other franchises are the DC Defenders, Tampa Bay Vipers, Los Angeles Wildcats, Seattle Dragons, Dallas Renegades, St. Louis Battlehawks, and Houston Roughnecks.
Just like in 2001, the new XFL will have some players that are familiar to football fans from their time in college and the NFL. There are also a good number of players that will be getting their first taste of professional football and with that comes the first chance to be on a professional and officially licensed sports trading card.
In the weeks leading up to the launch of the league, Topps and the XFL have been determining what players to include in the 200-card base set that will be available starting in March.
“Members of the XFL Brand Team have taken a deep dive into player rosters, team transactions, and player stats to help curate the subject list for this new set, “said Fullerton. “We feel we have put together a list of players that have the potential to break out and be some of the next big stars of the league and the sport.”
The 2020 XFL set from Topps will have special rookie card designations for those players who are new to professional football, an insert set with some of the stars of the XFL, and autograph cards from players around the league.
What makes working with the XFL a unique project for Topps is that they are getting more opportunities with players, coaches and the league in general than they might get from other leagues like the NFL. The new XFL is going to be all about a re-imagined game of professional football with some exciting new rules and lots of access for fans and media.
Topps has enjoyed some incredible access as they put together the series of trading cards.
“We were able to be on the field for some of their inaugural inter-squad scrimmages to capture photography for cards, speak with players, coaches, and league officials about future plans, and really be part of creating something new,” said Fullerton.
The Topps set for the original XFL in 2001 featured players like Rod “He Hate Me” Smart of the Las Vegas Outlaws, former New England Patriot Dwayne Sabb who played for the NY/NJ Hitmen, Kevin Swayne of the Orlando Rage who would go on to play for the New York Jets and New York Dragons, and Tommy Maddox of the LA Xtreme who would return to the NFL and play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Among the name players that figure to be in the new XFL set for Topps are former NFL quarterback Matt McGloin who will play for the Guardians, former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway who is a member of the Tampa Bay Vipers, and former Jets defensive end Kony Ealy who is playing for the Houston Roughnecks.
19 years later, the new XFL appears to be a much better product than what they had in 2001 but that original set from Topps was highly sought after by collectors and is hard to find these days. The new XFL has strong leadership, better players and coaches, and a better television deal.
They also have a great partner in Topps to produce a card set that will certainly help attract more fans of all ages to the league.