The Sports Bookie -- Breaking open a box of Bowman Sterling football

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Bowman Sterling football is certainly a high-end product, but if you’re a collector who can afford to shell out the cash, the risk/reward factor falls closer to the reward side this year.

I usually check prices for boxes of cards at Dave and Adam’s Card World ( because their prices are generally the most reasonable on the Internet. Even if they aren’t the cheapest, they are certainly competitive. A hobby box of 2012 Bowman Sterling football is selling for $309.95.

You can credit the high prices because of the great group of rookies that are included in the set: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and even Bucs running back Doug Martin. Topps has put more emphasis on rookies in this year’s Sterling set, but what I really like is that the hits in each pack are on very thick stock — 180 point — and that makes for very nice, collectible cards.

Here are the particulars for 2012 Bowman Sterling. A hobby box will include six packs, with five cards per pack. In addition, there will be a silver pack box topper that at the very least will include a jumbo patch card. Each pack will have three base cards, a rookie autograph card and a memorabilia card.

In a typical hobby box, Topps is promising four rookie autographs, two rookie auto relics and six jumbo relics. There also will be a rookie autograph patch and the jumbo patch box topper. Parallel cards will be in blue (numbered to 99), black (75), gold (50) and prism (25), with 1/1 Super Fractors and unframed printing plates.

The base set consists of 100 cards, and there are no veterans. But really, collectors are not buying Bowman Sterling for the base cards. Veterans are included in the relic and autograph cards. Collectors who like shiny cards will be pleased with the design. I am not a huge fan of shiny surfaces (my vintage baseball card bias always seeps through), and I feel I have to wear gloves when handling the base cards. Last thing I want to do is smudge them.

But I will concede that the design is simple and stark, with an action cutout of the player dropped onto a silver foil background. A prime team color is utilized on the card front to offset the silver. The card backs are very clean, with comments about the player marked as “Bowman Reflections,” while statistics are called “Sterling Stats.”

In the hobby box that I opened, the jumbo patch card in the box topper. It was of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, a huge patch with three colors. The patch was predominantly burgundy, with a thin stripe of gold and a slightly larger white piece of material. The card was numbered to 45.

Things got better as I opened the “regular” packs. The first one I opened included a blue refractor of Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly numbered to 99, an autographed card of former Plant High School star (and current Bengals tight end) Orson Charles, and a jumbo relic rookie card of 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins. The relic rookie cards have a very generous amount of uniform material and feel nice to the touch.

The second pack had an autographed card of Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin and a jumbo veteran relic refractor card of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, numbered to 75.

The third pack contained another blue refractor — this one was Ravens running back Bernard Pierce and also was numbered to 99. The autograph card was another Bengals player — rookie running back Dan Herron, and the jumbo rookie relic card was of Dolphins tight end Michael Egnew.

A.J. Jenkins figured prominently in the fourth pack I opened, as I found a jumbo relic refractor card of the San Francisco rookie, numbered to 65. This relic was mostly a white piece of material with a small amount of red. It’s interesting to receive two jumbo relics — even if one is a refractor — of the same guy. The autograph card was a refractor of Saints wide receiver Nick Toon, numbered to 50.

The fifth pack included a redemption card for an autograph rookie relic blue parallel of Seahawks running back Robert Turbin. The autograph card was of Falcons running back Alfred Morris, while the relic was a jumbo rookie refractor of Rams wide receiver Brian Quick. So, three big hits in this pack, even if it means I’ll have to wait to receive Turbin in the mail.

The sixth and final pack contained a rookie relic autograph card of Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, and a jumbo rookie relic card of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.

Not a bad hobby box, in my opinion. Other collectors may get luckier with booklets, multi-signature or dual cards or even printing plates. But — and I always say this — if you have the cash to spare, and like the possibility of really hitting it big (and don’t mind the possibility of being disappointed), then the chances of reward seem to be in your favor.
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