The History of Panini Prizm NFL

By Geoff Otto / GeoffO

Panini Prizm has become the currency of the hobby when it comes to football cards. If you want “the one” rookie card of your favorite player, you can’t go wrong getting their Prizm rookie card. This wasn’t always the case. For many years Topps Chrome was the flagship product, Topps was the brand that introduced the refractor and many parallels that we all love. In the 2000s, Topps Chrome looked like a brand that would never be surpassed as the flagship product. From 2009 to 2016, Topps and Panini both held rights to produce NFL-licensed cards. Prizm debuted in 2012 as newcomer Panini’s flagship brand, sparking the competition between Topps and Panini for NFL supremacy.

A massive change in the hobby was coming, in December 2015, it was announced that Panini signed a long-term contract securing the company exclusive trading card and sticker rights with the NFL. As of April 2016, Panini would be the sole manufacturer of NFL and NBA cards. With that announcement Prizm, already a few years into production, secured its spot as the flagship brand by default and became the most desired among collectors. D.J. Kazmierczak, Panini’s vice president of sales and product development at the time of the announcement, acknowledged that some collectors may not embrace Panini’s exclusive football license, regardless of how the company’s products perform in 2016 and beyond. We can say now without a doubt, that Panini Prizm has been embraced.

In my opinion, 2013 through 2016 feature Panini’s worst designs for the Prizm brand. Once Panini had sole NFL rights, the card designs started to move forward. For 2017, Mahomes’ rookie year, the set has a solid design and each year the look has steadily improved. When the pandemic hit in 2020, many new or returning collectors flocked to the hobby. Additionally, that year had possibly the greatest NFL draft class in history. The 2020 Prizm brand had a fantastic design, which led to an unbelievable following of the product. Trying to find a box available for sale, sitting on a shelf that year was like finding a needle in a haystack. Since 2020, who would question that Prizm is the undisputed football product among collectors?

The crazy thing is history may repeat itself and we are about to go through this again! Fanatics has exclusive licenses to the NFL beginning in 2026. Panini, with Prizm, will be on the outside, unable to produce NFL cards Prizm or any other Panini brand. Fanatics bought the Topps company which now raises questions about the football’s flagship product. What will be the new NFL flagship product? Will it return to Topps Chrome? Will the Prizm brand disappear? The coming years will answer those questions, but for now, Prizm remains THE brand collectors love.