• Loading stock data...
Sunday, July 14, 2024

Defiant Panini Is Contesting Early Breakup With NFLPA

  • A source told FOS the NFLPA leaned into the “substantial change in executive management” language in the contract as the reason to cancel the deal early. 
  • Panini filed a demand for arbitration on Tuesday then put a $249.95 Jalen Hurts box set on the market on Wednesday.

Panini officials didn’t put all the NFLPA products in the spokes of their 10-speeds when the union terminated its deal with the trading card giant in favor of Fanatics on Monday.

Instead, Panini filed a demand for arbitration on Tuesday and released its Luminance product for $249.95 box featuring Jalen Hurts on the packaging on Wednesday — one of many planned NFLPA-licensed items in the company’s 2023 NFL/NFLPA trading card line.

“Panini is poised to continue to deliver superior NFL products with the most powerful and meaningful brands for our partners and collectors as we approach the start of the NFL season,” Panini said in a statement. 

Two years ago, the NFLPA signed a 20-year deal with Fanatics. That deal, however, wasn’t supposed to commence until 2026. 

But on Monday, the NFLPA distributed an email that announced it would end its contract with Panini “effective immediately.”

The NFLPA has been mum as to the reasons why it moved to end its contract with Panini. Multiple messages left with the NFLPA this week by Front Office Sports went unanswered. 

But a source with knowledge of the situation told FOS the NFLPA leaned into the “substantial change in executive management” language in the contract as the reason to cancel the deal early. 

There have been two personnel moves among the top nine executives, but that didn’t include Panini America CEO Mark Warsop, who has led the company for more than two decades, and only one of those executives reported directly to him. Both positions were quickly filled. 

“We have exclusive rights to NFL Players’ names, images and likeness under our existing agreement through February of 2026 — as a result we have signed more than 360 active NFL Players to contracts to utilize in our licensed NFL trading card products,” Panini said in a statement. “NFLPA’s proffered excuses for termination not only lack all factual and legal merit, Panini has consistently outperformed its contractual commitments including delivering the largest payment that the NFLPI has ever received for royalties on trading cards this past contract year.”

NFLPA leadership met with Panini executives just two weeks ago and there was no indication the NFLPA was going to try to force Panini out, according to the source.

Panini hasn’t stated its intentions with the rest of its stock of NFLPA-licensed products outside the Hurts release, but there are numerous products listed on its site with NFLPA branding listed as “coming soon.” 

Panini also has deals with more than 360 NFL players and the NFL, so there will still be other products no matter how the arbitration is decided, a process that could take several months. 

Beyond the potential for an arbitrator to rule on Panini’s issue with the NFLPA, Panini has ongoing litigation with Fanatics — and vice versa. 

Earlier this month, Panini filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Fanatics.

“Fanatics began its anticompetitive conduct by secretly securing long-term, exclusive licensing deals with the NBA and MLB, along with each of their respective players associations, the NFL Players Association, and later the NFL itself,” Panini alleged in the complaint

Panini alleged Fanatics’ anticompetitive practices included “raiding” Panini’s employees, buying a controlling stake in Panini’s main manufacturing partner and Fanatics’ 2022 acquisition of Topps. 

Fanatics countersued days later. 

“Simply stated, it was obvious to licensors that the bold, comprehensive, and innovative vision Fanatics Collectibles brought to the table marked the path forward for the future,” Fanatics’ complaint stated. “And Panini should well understand why licensors here proceeded as they did, having itself acquired licenses (including its long held NFLPA license) without having to participate in a bidding process.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Jan 7, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium.

Without Hard-Line Bans, Pro Athletes and Personnel Will Keep Betting on Sports

Penalties often aren’t stringent or consistent enough to deter banned behavior.
Oct 2, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goddell speaks during the Don Shula Celebration of Life at Hard Rock Stadium.

The NFL Is Confident It Can Overturn the Sunday Ticket Verdict

The league may have good reason to believe it can win.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services on Monday sued retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre along with several other people and businesses to try to recover millions of misspent welfare dollars that were intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.S.

Judge in Mississippi Welfare Case Boots Brett Favre’s Lead Lawyer

The judge wrote he had a ‘pattern and practice of delicate deception.’
Oct 5, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris with fans before the game against the Chicago Bears at FedExField.

Parts of the Commanders’ Past Finding Their Way Into Harris Era

The team is developing plans to honor former logo designer next season.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Warner Bros. Discovery Faces Final Decision on NBA Rights


Featured Today

NFLPA Report Cards Have Become the ‘Talk of the Locker Room’ Across..

NFLPA report cards have become the ‘talk of the locker room.’
July 7, 2024

The New College Sports Insiders Are Graphic Designers

Joe Tipton and Hayes Fawcett have become premier news-breakers on social media.
Oct 27, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; A general of the Sacramento Kings logo on the court before the game against the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center.
July 6, 2024

How Sports Went From Private Equity Punchline to Coveted Asset Class

Once an industry punchline, sports are now a coveted asset class.
July 2, 2024

Willie Mays’s Humility Was Key to His Genius

Mays took heat from all sides, and handled it his own way.

Teenage Sprinting Prodigy Sues Gatorade After Positive Test

Issam Asinga alleges Gatorade gave him contaminated gummies.
Stadium with NFL logo at the mid-field line
July 10, 2024

‘Nonsensical’: NFL Blasts Massive Jury Award in Latest Sunday Ticket Case Filings

The league asked for a new trial and called the damages ‘indefensible.’
July 11, 2024

Criminal Charges Mean No Pay for Wander Franco

Franco had been receiving half of his $2 million base salary.

TopSpin 2K25 Brings the Legends of Tennis to Your Living Room

2K sports is reviving a classic with TopSpin 2K25.
July 9, 2024

$2 Million of Memorabilia Stolen in Dallas Baseball Card Heist

The thieves pulled off a sophisticated heist at the Dallas Card Show.
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre watches from a suite in the third quarter of Super Bowl 56 between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. The Rams came back in the final minutes of the game to win 23-20 on their home field. Super Bowl 56 Cincinnati Bengals Vs La Rams
July 9, 2024

‘Powerless’ Brett Favre Attempts to Revive Lawsuit Against Shannon Sharpe

Attorney argued Sharpe’s comment that Favre ‘stole’ welfare dollars isn’t protected speech.
July 2, 2024

Nev. Court Again Rules Gruden Suit Should Be Shunted To Secretive NFL Arbitration

Gruden says the NFL leaked emails to oust him as Raiders coach.