Insert Insights: 1999 Skybox Premium 2000 Men
This blog post is the first in a series about memorable insert sets from the 1990s and 2000s. Baseball, basketball, and football card releases will be covered. Seasoned collectors will recognize these sets immediately, but with so many new and returning collectors to The Hobby these days, this is a good time to introduce and reintroduce some classic inserts from the previous generation. — Brian
I tend to think of 1999 Skybox Premium 2000 Men as the football card market’s answer to 1997/98 E-X2001 Jambalaya basketball. While 2000 Men doesn’t possess Jambalaya’s name recognition, the two insert sets are comparable across a spectrum of categories. To see what I mean, let’s take a closer look at what 1999 Skybox Premium 2000 Men has to offer:
Design: oval-shaped and splashed with silver lettering and a silver border, these cards are highly memorable. Card backs are far subtler than card fronts (similar to Jambalaya).
Color Scheme: vivid patterns, bright player photos, and a shiny surface work together to mesmerize collectors. These cards really pop under a bright light and need to be seen in person to fully appreciate their awesomeness.
Scarcity: 1999 Skybox 2000 Men is serial numbered out of 100. Be careful, as unnumbered (likely backdoored) versions are spotted in the wild from time to time.
Player Selection. This is a 15-card set that features a lot of interesting names from the late 1990s: Warrick Dunn, Tim Couch, Fred Taylor, Jake Plummer, Jerry Rice, Edgerrin James, Mark Brunell, Peyton Manning, Randy Moss, Terrell Davis, Charlie Batch, Dan Marino, Emmitt Smith, Brett Favre, Barry Sanders.
Theme. The one thing that seems slightly off to me about 2000 Men is the theme. According to Beckett, this set “features Stars who will make an impact well into the new millennium.” If that is the case, it is curious that players such as Marino, Smith, Rice, and Sanders were included. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that these Hall of Famers made the cut. No matter how amazing a product looks, if player selection is weak, the set will not do well in the marketplace. However, when possible, it helps an insert set’s popularity if it remains true to itself. In other words, the best sets feature both a great theme/design and great players that work in concert with each other. Could you imagine 1997/98 Jambalaya featuring a bunch of point guards? It just wouldn’t work because the set’s theme is on dunkers. While nothing that egregious is happening here with 1999 Skybox 2000 Men, I can’t help but notice that two of the fifteen players in the set (Sanders and Marino) were not active NFL players in the year 2000. I of course don’t expect card companies to be fortune tellers, to know when players will retire (Sanders’ July 1999 retirement was particularly shocking to the football world). I just hope card manufacturers critically examine player checklists when building insert sets. Which players best align with the overall story that an insert set is trying to tell? That key question doesn’t always get asked.
All-in-all, 1999 Skybox Premium 2000 Men is an amazing, yet underappreciated, insert from the late 1990s. While it shares similarities with Jambalaya basketball, 2000 Men is unique enough to stand on its own. In this way, I see 2000 Men and Jambalaya as being more like cousins than brothers.
What football insert set from the late 1990s / early 2000s do you think is underappreciated by the collecting community? I’ve never really delved into Pacific, Playoff, and/or Collectors Edge that much. I think there could be some hidden gems from these companies. One thing for sure, the 1990s produced a seemingly never-ending smorgasbord of amazing inserts. That I know there is still so much for me to discover keeps me coming back for more.