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MemoraBillia: Though Bills lead way, card industry grimaces

By Tim Graham

Turns out memorabilia speculators think the same way as NFL scouts.

When it comes to analyzing this year's rookie class, there hasn't been a lot of hope for superstardom.

Even so, there has been excitement about the Buffalo Bills' rookies.

Not only did they make EJ Manuel the first quarterback off the board, but they also obtained intriguing receivers Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Da'Rick Rogers.

The Bills could have the next offensive rookie of the year.

That, however, might not translate into widespread memorabilia interest as I suggested a few weeks ago.

"It has made the Bills significantly more relevant than normal," said Adam Martin of Dave and Adam's Card World. "But within our industry, this draft class is just about the worst ever."

Dave and Adam's Card World is the largest online trading-card seller and has ranked third in retail sales behind Wal-Mart and Target. The warehouse is located in Tonawanda. Retail stores are in Tonawanda, East Amherst, Orchard Park and Niagara Falls.

Martin isn't particularly stoked about any 2013 rookies, especially not after the 2012 class of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson set the card industry on fire early.

"When you compare this year's draft to the marquee names in last year's draft, it's very hard to compare the two," said Martin, echoing comments made by hungover draft analysts, who had trouble getting excited about this year's crop.

"People were speculating on Luck and RG3. They were opening product, hoping to get those cards, whether it was a kid at Wal-Mart or a collector buying a box. They were excited.

"I don't think we have that this year with anybody."

Last year's rookies were so sensational that collectors likely will gravitate back to that class as second-year players quicker than this year's rookies.

Rookies of the year play quarterback, running back and receiver. Last year, five of the first eight picks played those positions.

This spring, the first seven picks were linemen. Zero running backs, one quarterback and three receivers were selected in the entire first round.

Martin said the memorabilia industry is hoping for a reprise of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a later-round pick who emerged as a star.

Martin explained rookies such as Russell autograph many more insert cards and other memorabilia because they don't charge as much as a Luck or an RG3 does for a private signing when they turn pro. A player like Russell gives collectors a better shot of winning that trading-card lottery. So they buy, buy, buy.

Manuel was the latest-drafted quarterback since Chad Pennington went 18th overall in 2000.

"We don't have anybody speculating on a rookie card of him as of yet, unlike with Luck or an RG3 last year," Martin said. "You're counting on someone like EJ to start and play well or Woods to have some stellar year that gets card collectors excited about a Bills player, which doesn't particularly happen."

A rookie must be a superstar to move the memorabilia needle. Martin noted being good on the field isn't enough. The player must lead his team to the playoffs, post fantastic stats or be the kind of player who appears in TV commercials.

"But the guys that we do have, Buffalo has a very strong showing there," Martin said. "They have three potentially big rookie cards that will attract the imagination of the collecting world if they perform.

"But a Bill has to really, really perform because we're a small market. A player on the New York stage doesn't have to overperform."


Da'Rick Rogers | EJ Manuel | Marquise Goodwin | MemoraBillia | Robert Woods
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |