Football cards are released every year, covering players in the NFL and CFL, as well as throwback immortals like Johnny Unitas. Trading card companies like Upper Deck and Topps produce high-end football cards, but the principles behind their creation aren't difficult to master. With the right software and a little patience, you can design your own collectable football cards for the pros, college teams, high school ball, or your own team or pee-wee league.
Collect photos of all the football players you want to include in your set. College websites and NFL.com list team rosters (see Resources). Local leagues often take their own photos; contact teams and ask if they have photos you can use, or take your own. Scan all photos to create image files such as jpegs. The higher the resolution, the better.
Organise the statistics for each football player you intend to put on your cards. NFL.com lists pertinent stats from pro and college players, as does ESPN's website. For smaller leagues, contact the league organisers and ask if they have records of the stats. Most football cards cover a player's entire career, but you should get stats for the most recent complete season at the very minimum.
Use graphic design software such as InDesign or Adobe Photoshop to design card frames for your cards. You want two types of frame: one for the front of the cards and one for the back. The front needs to include a large space for the player's picture, along with some basic information such as his name, number, team and position. The back should have space for all of the stats you wish to include and maybe a few brief words about the player's background. You can make the design as simple or as complex as you wish. Get ideas from professionally-made football cards if you're struggling to come up with designs of your own.
Open each player's picture in the design program, then click and drag each image into the box on the front of their card. Add his name, position, numbers and stats into the appropriate sections on the card.
Print the cards out on a good quality colour printer. Printouts from high resolution printers will look significantly sharper than those printed on machines with lower resolution.
Cut the cards out with a pair of scissors. Try to be as straight and sharp as possible: a uniform look makes the cards look more professional.
Cut out a piece of cardboard stock to match the card size you want, or gather professionally-made sports cards with very little value. (They are usually specified as "common" rather than "rare" or "ultra rare" and can be found in any blister pack of cards.) Glue the printouts onto the card stock, both the front side and the back.
Let the glue dry and then organise your football cards in any manner you wish.
White cardboard stock is the ideal way to print out football cards. If your printer can take cardboard stock, consider printing directly on the stock in lieu of cutting and pasting. You will need to use two-sided stock and print the back sides of the cards to sync up with the front. It may take a bit of fine tuning to get that just right, but when you do, it will make your cards look sharp.
Photos of pro football players are often copyrighted, either by the NFL or by the news service that took them. You can use these photos if your cards are just for fun, but you can't legally sell or market the cards if they contain such images.