2002 Topps Finest Football  

 

 

       
Base Set Refractors Gold Refractors Xfractors Promos Oddball

 

 

2002 Finest debuted in September, 2002. The set checklist is comprised of 62 veterans, 40 rookies, 14 veteran jersey cards (5 #/499, 9 #/999), and 22 autographed rookie cards. Since 1999 Topps made parts of the base set short printed, 2002 is the first time that memoribilia and autograph cards are part of the base set. This started a trend that Topps would follow fairly consistently through the 00's until 2010.

Each box is comprised of 3 mini-boxes, each mini containing 6 packs of cards. Each pack contained 5 cards. The MSRP for each mini-box was $40. Some autographs were inserted as exchanges/redemptions which expired 09/30/2004.

 

Odds of finding a short-print base or insert card:
Base: Veteran Jersey #/999 1:30, Veteran Jersey #/499 1:102, Rookie Autographs 1:18
Refractor: Base (1-62, 76-114) #/250 1:12, Jersey #/250 1:72, Rookie Autographs (115-136) #/250 1:66
Gold Refractor: Base (1-62, 76-114) #/25 1:102, Jersey #/25 1:746, Rookie Autographs (115-136) #/25 1:??
Xfractor Hot Box: 1:3810

Type Current Max Percent
Base w/o SPs 100 100 100%
Base /w SPs 120 136 88%
Refractors 7 136 5%
Gold Refractors 0 136 0%
Xfractors 0 136 0%

 

 

Set Design B

 

Chase Cards C

This set is very light on parallels and inserts. With jersey and autograph cards considered part of the base set, there are no insert cards. Refractors fall about 1.5 per master box, rookie autographs 1 per master box, and everything else a long-shot.

The thrill of potentially nabbing an Xfractor hot box would help spur sales. However with each card #/20, that means there are 2,720 total Xfractors possible. When considering there are 90 cards to a master box (5 cards per pack, 6 packs per mini box, 3 mini boxes) that would leave 30 mini boxes, or 10 master boxes with the potential for a hit parade.

Refractors in this set are difficult to see on darker cards, making it easy to overlook. This is not a bountiful release by Topps.

 

Veteran Group B

With only 62 base veterans, Topps needed to make sure every one counted. Here you'll find HoFers like Curtis Martin, Terrell Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Jerry Rice, Jerome Bettis, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner, Ray Lewis, and Terrell Owens. Young up and coming players like Tom Brady (fresh off his 1st Super Bowl win!) and Chargers Drew Brees also make appearances.

Tucked into the veteran jersey grouping are more Hall of Famers like LaDainian Tomlinson, Cris Carter, Brian Urlacher, Tim Brown, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Warren Sapp, and Brett Favre.

 

Draft Class D-

The 2002 draft class is extremely weak in retrospect. Coming out it had the hallmarks of collectibility. 3 QBs were chosen in the first round (1st, 3rd, and 32nd) plus some other skill positions. However none of them panned out. The class featured 8 different players to attain Pro Bowl status. 2003 had 15 All Pros and 2001 featured 11. This draft provided many players from the defensive side and offensive line who enjoyed productive careers... but that doesn't make for a good hobby checklist to chase.

When collecting from 2002 today, the leading candidates are HoFers Ed Reed (2019) and Julius Peppers (likely 2023). Behind them are perennial pro bowler and 3-time All Pro Dwight Freeney, 2-time Pro Bowl Clinton Portis, and 1-time All-Pro Brian Westbrook. The top QB of the class is 4th rounder David Garrard though long-time veteran Josh McCown also made his debut. The top WR Deion Branch. TE Jeremy Shockey made some noise but injuries hampered his career. David Carr will always maintain some collectibility by virtual of his 1st overall status and being the 1st pick of the expansion Texans. Likewise former Heisman winner Eric Crouch will also see some hobby love. Playoff darling and Patriots fan favorite David Givens was selected in the 7th round and swiss army knife Steeler Antwaan Randle El in the 2nd.

In this year of Finest top base rookies to target are Peppers and Reed with some nods towards Randle El, Jeremy Shockey, McCown, Garrard, Freeney, Westbrook, and Branch. Top autograph rookies include Carr, Joey Harrington, Portis, and Crouch. TJ Duckett has some interest with his rookie auto being short-printed from the customary 1200 down to 300.

 

Overall C- A scant checklist of 100 base cards along with memoribilia and autograph cards numbered within the set will turn off set builders. Refractor hunters will be annoyed at only pulling 1-2 per master box. Topping it off with a weak draft class makes this product a miss in retrospect. The silver lining is yet another knockout design by Topps as well as nabbing rookie cards of all-time greats like Ed Reed and Julius Peppers help make this product avoid being a complete disaster.