Upper Deck: SP
My Upper Deck: SP Collection (Updated April 23rd, 2021)
1993 Upper Deck SP: “Jr. Seau” #234
1994 Upper Deck SP: “Johnny Morton” Holoviews #PB13
1996 Upper Deck SP: “Orlanda Thomas” UCE #116
In 1991, Topps added the "Stadium Club" title to its arsenal as its Super Premium brand. In 1991, Fleer countered that move by adding their own, they called it "Fleer: Ultra". Flash forward to 1993, Fleer / Skybox adds another to the crowed "Super Premium" market by adding the "Skybox: Premium" title. To counter that move, Upper Deck added theirs; they called it "Upper Deck: SP". There was no official word, what "SP" actually stood for, but it seems easy enough to assume that it stood for "Super Premium". And what a "Super Premium" brand it was, (See the 1993 Upper Deck SP "Jr. Seau" #234 left), right out of the gate this title just impressed. From the base set size, 270-cards, to the design, photography, layout, everything. The '93 release only had one insert set, but back in '93 that was not uncommon.
The '94 release may not have had the initial Wham factor that the '93 release had, but it was still really cool, (See the 1994 Upper Deck SP "Aubrey Beavers" RC #40 right). The '94 set was another solid release with the only drawback being that the set size dipped all the way down to 200. The '94 release was the first to offer the highly popular "Holoviews" insert set, (See the 1994 Upper Deck SP "Johnny Morton" Holoviews #PB13 below left). This set was awesome. It was one of the first in a very long line of cards to display holographic images; hence the name.
The '95 release was absolutely stunning. It was still a measly 200-cards, but the front card layout was amazing, (See the 1995 Upper Deck SP "Sean Gilbert" #61 below right), so much so that it remains one of my favorite all-time base sets. I just thought the layout was totally cool and I really liked the way the Upper Deck SP was called out on the left-hand side. For insert sets the "Holoviews" made their 2nd appearance, as well as, the "All-Pros" insert set, which disappeared for a year in '94.
Upper Deck did not relent in '96. The 1996 release of the Upper Deck SP title picked up right where the '95 set left off, (See the 1996 Upper Deck SP "Orlanda Thomas" UCE #116 below left). I thought the '96 set was also stunning. I just loved the little facial insert picture on the right and the Silver hazy background, (which Upper Deck used quite frequently). Also
1994 Upper Deck SP: “Aubrey Beavers” RC #40
1995 Upper Deck SP: “Sean Gilbert” #61
note, the Orlanda Thomas error rears it's ugly head again. If the earlier releases of the SP title had dynamite insert sets, then the '96 offering dropped the "H" bomb!! The '96 release had 5 insert sets and all 5 delivered, (See the 1996 Upper Deck SP "John Mobley" Focus on the Future #F9 below right). I just always thought the '96 release had the best group of insert sets I ever saw and I still have to start putting the "Explosive" insert set together.
1997 Upper Deck SP: “Jamie Sharper” RC #45
The '97 Upper Deck SP release was a bit of a downer. I mean, Upper Deck had to come back to earth at some point. I just didn't like the way the front design looked, (See the 1997 Upper Deck SP "Jamie Sharper" RC #45 left). With that being said, everything else about the '97 release was awesome. The "Sign of the Times" autograph set was awesome. It was, shall I say, another touchdown for Upper Deck, (I couldn't say, "Home Run", could I?), (See the 1997 Upper Deck SP "Dan Marino" Sign of the Times #22B
1996 Upper Deck SP: “John Mobley” Focus on the Future #F9
The '98 Upper Deck SP release upped the ante yet again. The '98 season was the first of the "Short Printed" and #'d rookie cards and what a season to do it on; the rookie year for Manning, Moss, Woodson, and John Avery, (just kidding on the John Avery card. Heck, he's a stand-up comedian. He'll get the joke.), (See the 1998 Upper Deck SP "Ahman Green" RC #27 left). Not only were the
1997 Upper Deck SP: “Dan Marino” Sign of the Times #22B
right). But that wasn't all, Upper Deck also included the "Mark of a Legend" autograph set and the 6-card goliath called "Traditions". Good luck putting the traditions set together. That one will cost you a
pretty penny. The '97 Upper Deck SP release had 3 top-of-the-line autograph sets in one release. This title was not going away any time soon!
1998 Upper Deck SP: “Ahman Green” RC #27
1999 Upper Deck SP: “Rob Konrad” RC #103
rookie cards short-printed, but they just looked cool too. The '98 release also introduced us to the 1st "Player's Ink" auto set, (See the 1998 Upper Deck SP "Dorsey Levens" Player's Ink #DL below right).
This set was listed as a 30-card set in Beckett, but I have it at 35. I've found 4 autograph redemption cards and the very elusive Kevin Dyson auto card which I've seen one time.
The '99 Upper Deck SP release had a huge initial spike. The incredible season that Edgerrin James had had this set in the stratosphere. The '99 set was also "Short Printed" with #'d rookie cards and Upper Deck SP increased the # of rookie cards from 30 in 1998 to 45 in 1999, (See the 1998 Upper Deck SP "Rob Konrad" RC #103 below left). The '99 release continued with the cool looking rookie cards. The '99 release also had the 2nd installment of the "player's Ink" auto set, (See the 1999 Upper Deck SP "Peyton
1998 Upper Deck SP: “Dorsey Levens” Player's Ink #DL
Manning" Player's Ink Autograph Exchange #PM-X below right). Beckett had this set listed at 40
cards, but I've found 7 autograph redemption cards and 2 autograph variations to take it to 49. This was also the 1st year for the "Buy Back" autograph cards. Which started with a whopping 83-card set.
2000 Upper Deck SP: “Tom Brady” RC #118 *
1999 Upper Deck SP: “Peyton Manning” Player's Ink Auto Exchange #PM-X
The 2000 Upper Deck SP release is another in a very long line of monumental sets from Upper Deck. It wasn't so much of what the set looked like or did, but who was included. The 2000 release includes the "Holy Grail" of Tom Brady rookie cards, (See the 2000 Upper Deck SP "Tom Brady" RC #118 left). The 200 release also included the 2nd installment of the "Buy Back" autographs and if an 83-card set in '99 wasn't impressive enough, Upper Deck took the latest "Buy Back" autograph set to 102-cards. Pinnacle had trouble putting together a 60-card base set in the mid-90s and here Upper Deck was including a 100+ card autograph set as an insert.
Good Golly!! And not to be outdone, but Upper Deck brought back the "Sign of the Times" autograph set; the first since 1997, (See the 2000 Upper Deck SP "Eddie George" Sign of the Times Autograph Exchange #EG-X right).
In 2001 Upper Deck SP seemed to pull back the reigns a little bit. Gone were the 102-card "Buy Back" autograph set and 80-card "Sign of the Times" autograph set in a single release. Instead, the '01 SP release gave its fans a single 38-card "Sign of the Times" autograph set. But what the Upper Deck SP set did provide was its first-ever jersey rookie cards in its base set, (See the 2001 Upper Deck SP "Santana Moss" Rookie / Jersey #102 below left). Some of the swatches included on these rookie cards were absolutely amazing.
2000 Upper Deck SP: “Eddie George” Sign of the Times Auto Exchange #EG-X
*Note: I do not own the card above. Unfortunately, I'm torn between buying a new car or a football card.
In 2002, Upper Deck created one of its biggest blunders that I've ever seen them do. Usually getting an autographed Rookie card is the highlight of opening up any pack. However, that was not the case back in 2002. The huge problem with the Rookie Autograph cards in the 2002 set is the material where the player is supposed to sign.
2001 Upper Deck SP: “Santana Moss” Rookie / Jersey #102
Check out the 2002 Upper Deck SP of Randy Fasani right. If a player signs inside that circle, the signature is perfect. If by chance, the player strays a little to the outside or signs outside the circle intentionally, the signature is horrible. See the 2002 Upper Dek SP rookie
2002 Upper Deck SP: “Randy Fasani” Rookie / Auto #208
autograph of Ed Reed below right. Which just happens to be a Graded Gem Mint 10. Are you kidding me? You got to believe that Upper Deck knew about this before they released these cards. They had to, I mean, how could you not? Good luck obtaining any good autographs from this set. It's nearly impossible.
In closing, the "Upper Deck: SP" brand was just an awesome title with really no real weaknesses or blunders, (outside the 2002 Rookie Autograph cards). The set sizes were a little smaller than I like, but they weren't pathetic. A collector could build their whole autograph collection under just one title; that title being the "Upper Deck: SP" title. So I would definitely say that if you're looking to collect a solid, yet not nearly inexpensive as you'd like, the "Upper Deck: SP" title would be a solid choice.
I have complete sets:
Upper Deck SP:
1) 1993 Upper Deck SP Set
A) All-Pros Insert
2) 1994 Upper Deck SP Set
A) Holoviews Insert
3) 1995 Upper Deck SP Set
A) All-Pros Insert
B) Holoviews Insert
4) 1996 Upper Deck SP Set
A) Focus on the Future Insert
B) Holoviews Insert
C) SPx Force Insert
D) SPx Force Autographs Insert
5) 1997 Upper Deck SP Set
A) Mark of a Legend Insert - Incomplete ( 10 / 12 ) *
B) Profiles Die Cut Insert
C) Sign of the Times - Incomplete ( 29 / 33 ) **
6) 1998 Upper Deck SP - Incomplete ( 124 / 126 )
A) Maximum Impact Insert
B) Player's Ink Insert ***
C) Special Forces Insert
7) 1999 Upper Deck SP
A) Authentic Athletic Insert
B) Maximum Impact Insert
C) New Classics Insert
D) NFL Headquarters Insert
E) Player's Ink Insert ****
F) Rookie Blitz Insert
G) Supremacy Insert
8) 2000 Upper Deck SP - Incomplete ( 168 / 171 )
A) Buy Back Autographs - Incomplete ( 4 / 102 )
B) New Classics Insert
C) Rookie Fusion Insert
D) Sign of the Times - Incomplete ( 95 / 103 ) *****
E) Athletic Insert
F) Supremacy Insert
9) 2001 Upper Deck SP - Incomplete ( 120 / 190 )
10) 2002 Upper Deck SP - Incomplete ( 166 / 244 )
A) Authentic Threads Insert
B) Sign of the Times - Incomplete ( 9 / 27 )
C) Threads Doubles Insert
D) Threads Triples Insert
E) Threads Quads - Incomplete ( 2 / 6 )
11) 2003 Upper Deck SP - Do Not Have
12) 2004 Upper Deck SP - Do Not Have
13) 2005 Upper Deck SP - Do Not Have
14) 2006 Upper Deck SP - Incomplete ( 150 / 260 )
A) Authentic Chirography Insert - Incomplete ( 26 / 57 )
B) Authentic Chirography Duals Insert - Incomplete ( 6 / 24 )
15) 2007 Upper Deck SP - Do Not Have
16) 2008 Upper Deck SP - Do Not Have
A) Rookie Leatherheads Autographs Insert - Incomplete ( 24 / 32 )
*Note: This set was listed as a 9-card set, However after I discovered the #ML1-X Bob Griese, ML4-X Franco Harris and the ML7-X Tony Dorsett Exchange cards and the unlisted Joe Namath card, the set is now 12-cards.
**Note: This set was listed as an 30-card set, However after I discovered the #3X Terry Allen, the #15X Warrick Dunn Exchange cards, and the #6X Will Blackwell Exchange cards the set is now 33-cards.
***Note: This set was listed as a 30-card set, However after I discovered the #KD Kevin Dyson Autograph and the #RLX Ryan Leaf Exchange cards, the set is now 32-cards.
****Note: This set was listed as a 40-card set, However after I discovered the #AS-AX Akili Smith, #CD-AX Corey Dillon, #DB-AX Drew Bledsoe, #DF-AX Doug Flutie, #PM-AX Peyton Manning, #TC-AX Tim Couch, and the #TO-AX Terrell Owens Exchange cards and the #CD-V Corey Dillon Blue Ink Auto, the set is now 48-cards.
*****Note: This set was listed as an 87-card set, However after I discovered the #CS-X Corey Simon, #DF-X Danny Farmer, #EG-X Eddie George, #HM-X Herman Moore, #JJ-X J.J. Stokes, #KC-X Kwamie Cavil, #KF-X Kevin Faulk, #OG-X Olandis Gary, #QI-X Qadry Ismael, #RL-X Ray Lucas, #TG-X Trevor Gaylor, #DU-X Ron Dugans, #DL-X Chris Claiborne, #TH-X Torry Holt Exchange cards #DW-V Dez White unsigned card, and the Terrell Owens autograph card the set is now 103-cards.
2002 Upper Deck SP: “Ed Reed” Rookie / Auto #195