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2023 Panini Zenith Football Checklist Review – What You Need To Know Before Buying

2023 panini zenith

While not necessarily the most popular or important of the Panini releases, Panini Zenith Football has carved out a regular spot in the annual football releases of the veteran company.

It offers a mix of solid RPAs, unique inserts, and an early look at the Contenders Optic Rookie Ticket cards. It has usually offered these advantages for a relatively modest price. But as we have seen, the price of Panini products has increased sharply across the board.

So, is Zenith still a worthy purchase with the constant upward pressure on prices? Read the 2023 Panini Zenith Football Review to find out.

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The history of Panini Zenith Football

In 1997, Pinnacle first released Zenith Baseball. These cards were very exclusive and expensive at the time. Each pack sold for a very high price of $9.99. Remember, these were the pre-inflation days. That was a serious investment!

The packs came with five standard cards and, most importantly,  two 8″ X 10″ parallels. The set was also notable for all of the Z-themed inserts. They continue to dominate the release today.

The brand first dabbled in football with the release of the 1999 Score Supplemental Zenith Z-Team cards. That continued over the next few years under the Score product flag. However, the brand petered out in the 2000s after failing to make inroads.

For whatever reason, Panini decided to revive the brand in 2020. It certainly wasn’t because there was a massive clamoring in the public for the return of Zenith.

Instead, this was a boom time for the hobby, when the company felt like any new card release was a way of printing money. So, Zenith Football was announced, and Panini described the release as one “minimal quantities directly to the consumer.”

It was sold only through the Panini website using their time-honored Dutch auction method.

The main selling point in reimagining the product was the RPA case hits. The response was not overly enthusiastic.

But it was strong enough for Panini Zenith Football to become a permanent fixture on the release calendar.

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Justin Herbert, Mike WIlliams and Austin Ekeler Triple Auto

2023 Panini Zenith Football release date

There has been considerable improvement in Panini’s release dates recently. After falling far behind with all the items on the company schedule, the biggest ticket items, like Donruss and Prizm, have had reasonable release dates relatively early in the season.

Sadly, we cannot say the same for 2023 Panini Zenith Football. The product is scheduled for March 22nd, 2024. That is two days before the Super Bowl.

Therefore, it’s technically released during the season. But man, are they cutting it close? Still, if we are honest, it’s better to delay Zenith than most other options.

2023 Zenith Football release formats

Zenith is traditionally a hobby release only. But in 2022, they began to issue retail products as well. Since that was pretty successful, we imagine retail will return to the shelves in 2023.

So far, we only have details for the hobby box. But we have brought what we believe will be the retail offerings.

Hobby Box

  • 6 cards per pack
  • 1 pack per box
  • Look for 1 patch autograph, 1 additional autograph, 1 base card, 1 rookie card, and 2 inserts per box on average
  • 12 boxes per case
  • A box presells for $399.95

Blaster Box

  • 6 Packs Per Box
  • 4 Cards Per Pack
  • An average of One Auto or Memorabilia Card Per Box

Mega Box

  • 5 fat packs
  • 1 Illusions Football fat pack
  • 3 assorted Panini cards

Panini Zenith Football 2023 pros

The main advantage of Zenith is its strong retail hit ratio.

We don’t yet know if Panini will replicate what it did in 2022 this time. But the retail releases were pretty solid, and we hope that will repeat. Panini guaranteed an auto or memorabilia card in each blaster.

That is a very generous ratio for a relatively inexpensive retail product. Meanwhile, the Mega Box was even better. The hobby box is also hit heavy.

There are only six cards in the hobby box. You have 1 patch autograph, 1 additional autograph, 1 rookie card, and 2 inserts there. Only one base card among them.

The primary signature of this release has always been the attractive inserts. Yes, they are all Z-themed, and that can get annoying. Nonetheless, the inserts are far more attractive on average than in most Panini releases.

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2023 Panini Zenith Football cons

The main issue with Zenith is that it gets very little respect in the hobby. The name is often used as an example of a product that shouldn’t exist. It was brought in for no real reason aside for making money.

With a pretty low level of cache, few people want to spend large amounts of money on a Zenith rookie card. Let’s get real here.

That is why the fact that Zenith is hit-heavy isn’t as significant as you might think. The hits tend to be pretty mediocre. We will delve deeper into that when we look at value.

The base designs for Zenith are usually pretty bad. They are not the main point in this release. Still, the 2023 Panini Zenith Football may be the ugliest one yet. It was created with no sense of taste or aesthetics whatsoever.

Bryce Young Panini Zenith Football

2023 Zenith Football checklist

The checklist for 2023 Panini Zenith Football isn’t out yet. But this release usually features a 200-base card checklist, which will also be the story.

As for the rookies in this release, the 2023 rookie class seemed pretty weak at one point. The biggest name, Bryce Young, had a disappointing rookie season, and there were questions about his long-term viability.

But the emergence of C.J. Stroud as a tremendously promising QB changed all that. This may end up being a pretty solid cohort.

Shop for 2023 Panini Zenith Football boxes on eBay

Inserts

While some releases emphasize their parallels or autos, for Zenith, it has always been about the inserts. There are the usual Z-themed cards.

For example, you can find the Z-Stars, Z-Team, and Zeal of Approval in 2023 Panini Zenith Football. But no one is particularly excited about that.

Contenders Optic Preview Tickets

The Contenders Tickets are, without a doubt, among the most beloved rookie cards in the hobby. But so far, we do not have a date to release the 2023 Panini Contenders Optic NFL.

But as usual, Zenith has these versions as a hobby box-only insert. They don’t look quite as cool as the actual Contenders version. But we like them anyway.

Bijan Robinson Optic Contenders

Epix

Panini is bringing back the Epix insert, a mainstay of the old-school Pinnacle Zenith releases. They look typically tasteless in that inimitable 1990s manner.

I mean that as a compliment. These hobby-exclusive cards arrive in several combos. There are so-called Game, Play, and Season versions of each card. Then you can also get them in Orange, Purple, and Emerald colors. This is an excellent insert we would like to see again.

Autos

There isn’t too much of an auto variety in Zenith. But the excellent selection of RPAs makes up for that. Among the two autos in each box, there is one RPA. The base version is numbered 299. But you can get lower-numbered RPA cards as well.

The designs are a bit cheap-looking. That has always been an issue with the Zenith RPAs. Of course, the sticker auto doesn’t help much, either.

We will look at how much these go for below. But while they may not be the best-looking RPAs, you are guaranteed one per box, which is pretty sweet. Other autos are available in this product, such as the Z Jersey Autographs. They are primarily for veteran autographs.

Anthony Richardson Rookie Patch Autographs

2023 Panini Zenith Football value

Now, to the testy part of every review. These releases have lovely cards and promise wonders to those who invest in them. But at the end of the day, what are we getting for our money?

Zenith is not one of the most prestigious releases in the business. Therefore, you may wonder why anyone would pay $400 for a box.

It wasn’t that long ago that this was the price we paid for a pack of Panini Prizm. But there is no point in living in the past. Be here now is our Buddhist mantra at Cardlines.

Still, we can’t get over the weird feeling that this is just too much money for Zenith. But instead of wondering, let’s crunch the numbers for wax and singles.

Wax

We don’t know how many people bank on Panini Zenith Football for investment needs. But there is no shortage of boxes available on eBay and elsewhere.

So, how do they hold up? There aren’t too many years to run a focused comparison. But here are the prices Zenith football hobby boxes have been going for recently.

ReleaseValue
2020 Panini Zenith Football Hobby Box$674.95
2021 Panini Zenith Football Hobby Box$279.95
2022 Panini Zenith Football Hobby Box$299.95

The 2020 version goes for notably high prices for a few reasons. First, it is older than the other boxes, and they gain value over time. Second, it was an exceptional rookie class.

You had Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Justin Jefferson. Third, that year, it was a limited edition that you had to order specifically from Panini. The latter is probably the most crucial reason for the higher price. As we know, none of these factors applies to the not particularly anticipated 2023 Panini Zenith Football.

It is far more likely that the 2023 Panini Zenith Football will end up in the $300 range than close to the value of the 2020 box. Sure, C.J. Stroud could be the next Mahomes. But he probably won’t be.

Then, there is the question of how Zenith will age as a brand. I guess that once Panini loses its license, it will be swiftly forgotten. It is barely remembered today. Therefore, investing $400 in a box of Zenith seems like a waste of money. There are better investments out there.

Singles

A box is not the way to go. But that may not be a big deal. After all, there are plenty of RPAs and inserts in Zenith. Buying up singles may be the logical choice if they get good market value.

With that in mind, how do the best cards in this release hold up? Here are some of the most significant recent sales from previous iterations of this product:

CardPrice
2022 Panini Zenith AARON RODGERS Retro 1992 Pacific Gold Vinyl Prizm #d 1/1 (Raw)$1,499.95
2020 Panini Zenith Joe Burrow Bronze Dual Rookie Patch Autograph RPA RC Auto /25 (Raw)$1,250
2020 Panini Zenith Rookies Artist Proof Platinum 1/1 Justin Herbert Rookie RC (Raw)$683.22
2022 Panini Zenith 1992 Pacific Gold Prizm #PAC-2 Patrick Mahomes II /10 (PSA 10)$667
2022 Zenith Tua Tagovailo Tyrek Hill Jaylen Waddle team summit Patch Auto /15 (Raw)$630

Most of the bigger hits are around the $500-600 mark, with some exceptional cards over $1,000. Those are pretty good numbers for a cheap box. But once it’s up $400, even the most significant hits don’t seem like a massive home run.  

2022 Zenith Justin Herbert

I immediately noticed that the Zenith RPAs do not figure among the most valuable cards in this release. Aside from the justifiably valuable Joe Burrow RPA, they do not crack the top five.

There are a few around the $500 price point. But most are well below. That means that even if you hit an excellent RPA, it may not be worth more than the box.

The final word on 2023 Panini Zenith Football 

Zenith was never a trendy option among collectors. But it took off anyway during the COVID-19 boom and earned a regular spot on the calendar. However, with prices up to $400 now and little resale value, it has questionable value in the hobby.

The resale value for the boxes is not exceptionally high. The best singles don’t get much traction on eBay, either. The designs aren’t all that great.

The base cards in 2023 Panini Zenith Football are particularly poor. There is little to recommend this release. Hate to be that guy, but there it is.

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2023 Panini Zenith Football checklist

2023 Panini Zenith

wdt_ID Set Player Team Position Card number Number of cards
1 1994 Pacific Aaron Rodgers New York Jets QB 1
2 1994 Pacific Anthony Richardson Indianapolis Colts QB 2
3 1994 Pacific Bijan Robinson Atlanta Falcons RB 3
4 1994 Pacific Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB 4
5 1994 Pacific C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB 5
6 1994 Pacific Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 6
7 1994 Pacific Jahmyr Gibbs Detroit Lions RB 7
8 1994 Pacific Ja'Marr Chase Cincinnati Bengals WR 8
9 1994 Pacific Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 9
10 1994 Pacific Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 10
11 1994 Pacific Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 11
12 1994 Pacific Josh Jacobs Las Vegas Raiders RB 12
13 1994 Pacific Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB 13
14 1994 Pacific Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB 14
15 1994 Pacific Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 15
16 1994 Pacific Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys LB 16
17 1994 Pacific Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers DE 17
18 1994 Pacific Patrick Mahomes II Kansas City Chiefs QB 18
19 1994 Pacific T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers LB 19
20 1994 Pacific Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB 20
21 1994 Pacific Blue Aaron Rodgers New York Jets QB 1
22 1994 Pacific Blue Anthony Richardson Indianapolis Colts QB 2
23 1994 Pacific Blue Bijan Robinson Atlanta Falcons RB 3
24 1994 Pacific Blue Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB 4
25 1994 Pacific Blue C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB 5
26 1994 Pacific Blue Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 6
27 1994 Pacific Blue Jahmyr Gibbs Detroit Lions RB 7
28 1994 Pacific Blue Ja'Marr Chase Cincinnati Bengals WR 8
29 1994 Pacific Blue Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 9
30 1994 Pacific Blue Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 10
31 1994 Pacific Blue Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 11
32 1994 Pacific Blue Josh Jacobs Las Vegas Raiders RB 12
33 1994 Pacific Blue Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB 13
34 1994 Pacific Blue Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB 14
35 1994 Pacific Blue Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 15
36 1994 Pacific Blue Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys LB 16
37 1994 Pacific Blue Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers DE 17
38 1994 Pacific Blue Patrick Mahomes II Kansas City Chiefs QB 18
39 1994 Pacific Blue T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers LB 19
40 1994 Pacific Blue Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB 20
41 1994 Pacific Gold Aaron Rodgers New York Jets QB 1 10
42 1994 Pacific Gold Anthony Richardson Indianapolis Colts QB 2 10
43 1994 Pacific Gold Bijan Robinson Atlanta Falcons RB 3 10
44 1994 Pacific Gold Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB 4 10
45 1994 Pacific Gold C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB 5 10
46 1994 Pacific Gold Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 6 10
47 1994 Pacific Gold Jahmyr Gibbs Detroit Lions RB 7 10
48 1994 Pacific Gold Ja'Marr Chase Cincinnati Bengals WR 8 10
49 1994 Pacific Gold Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 9 10
50 1994 Pacific Gold Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 10 10
51 1994 Pacific Gold Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 11 10
52 1994 Pacific Gold Josh Jacobs Las Vegas Raiders RB 12 10
53 1994 Pacific Gold Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB 13 10
54 1994 Pacific Gold Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB 14 10
55 1994 Pacific Gold Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 15 10
56 1994 Pacific Gold Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys LB 16 10
57 1994 Pacific Gold Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers DE 17 10
58 1994 Pacific Gold Patrick Mahomes II Kansas City Chiefs QB 18 10
59 1994 Pacific Gold T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers LB 19 10
60 1994 Pacific Gold Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB 20 10
61 1994 Pacific Red Aaron Rodgers New York Jets QB 1
62 1994 Pacific Red Anthony Richardson Indianapolis Colts QB 2
63 1994 Pacific Red Bijan Robinson Atlanta Falcons RB 3
64 1994 Pacific Red Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB 4
65 1994 Pacific Red C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB 5
66 1994 Pacific Red Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 6
67 1994 Pacific Red Jahmyr Gibbs Detroit Lions RB 7
68 1994 Pacific Red Ja'Marr Chase Cincinnati Bengals WR 8
69 1994 Pacific Red Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 9
70 1994 Pacific Red Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 10
71 1994 Pacific Red Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 11
72 1994 Pacific Red Josh Jacobs Las Vegas Raiders RB 12
73 1994 Pacific Red Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB 13
74 1994 Pacific Red Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB 14
75 1994 Pacific Red Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 15
76 1994 Pacific Red Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys LB 16
77 1994 Pacific Red Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers DE 17
78 1994 Pacific Red Patrick Mahomes II Kansas City Chiefs QB 18
79 1994 Pacific Red T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers LB 19
80 1994 Pacific Red Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB 20
81 1994 Pacific Silver Aaron Rodgers New York Jets QB 1
82 1994 Pacific Silver Anthony Richardson Indianapolis Colts QB 2
83 1994 Pacific Silver Bijan Robinson Atlanta Falcons RB 3
84 1994 Pacific Silver Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB 4
85 1994 Pacific Silver C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB 5
86 1994 Pacific Silver Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 6
87 1994 Pacific Silver Jahmyr Gibbs Detroit Lions RB 7
88 1994 Pacific Silver Ja'Marr Chase Cincinnati Bengals WR 8
89 1994 Pacific Silver Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 9
90 1994 Pacific Silver Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 10
91 1994 Pacific Silver Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 11
92 1994 Pacific Silver Josh Jacobs Las Vegas Raiders RB 12
93 1994 Pacific Silver Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB 13
94 1994 Pacific Silver Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB 14
95 1994 Pacific Silver Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 15
96 1994 Pacific Silver Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys LB 16
97 1994 Pacific Silver Nick Bosa San Francisco 49ers DE 17
98 1994 Pacific Silver Patrick Mahomes II Kansas City Chiefs QB 18
99 1994 Pacific Silver T.J. Watt Pittsburgh Steelers LB 19
100 1994 Pacific Silver Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB 20
Set Player Team Position Card number Number of cards
Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.

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