Every so often, something comes along in the hobby that ignites a huge discussion. A good example from the past was Mark Ingram’s photo from the 2011 Rookie Premiere, showcasing a clear representation of the way that Event Used jerseys were done. Although it wasnt displaying anything that most of us experienced online collectors didnt know, it clued a lot of others in, and they werent happy. This new Panini Flawless fiasco is a similarly big discussion, although its far less cut and dry.
The whole situation was further complicated after Panini released a more extensive understanding of how far the mislabeled cards went, and with some additional thought, there are a lot of questions that were established in the mean time. For those of you unaware of the situation, here is my original reaction.
What Does Further Discovery of “Mislabeled” cards Mean?
When Panini released their first statement, I wrote it off. Three players had issues? Okay, whatever. But now more players are part of it? Wait what? That’s a bit different. It seems a larger part of the print run was deemed to be mislabeled, and that is a very disappointing situation. Remember, this is a product that costs a mortgage payment per box, attention to detail needs to be top of mind. Something doesnt compute. This led me to the next question.
Was This Really A Mistake?
Aha! Now we get to the meat of the discussion. Originally, I could see how a few wrong swatches get into the wrong cards. It happens. Yet, to have extensive documentation of which cards from which run were effective? How does that happen unless you know exactly what is going on? Its one thing to say, “Well we missed on these three player’s whole runs. The wrong bag of swatches got used.” Its another thing to say, “3 cards from Subset A were bad, but the rest were good, and the same goes for 6 cards from subset B, but the rest were good.” That shows me that someone probably knew exactly what was going on. You dont have that type of documentation without knowing. Products go through too many QC checks to not catch this many issues.
Flawless came out very early in the year. Very early. I can easily see a scenario unfold that stems from having to rush the cards to print, cutting corners, and hoping no one can tell the difference. Not only is that extremely short sighted with a hobby that is known for its meticulous study of the different releases, but it is a blatant disregard for everything that we find to be trustworthy. This brings me to a third question.
Why the fuck do they have so many old photo shoot jerseys in stock?
Calvin Johnson attended the photo shoot in 2007, which was over 7 years ago. There is absolutely NO excuse for having his swatches in inventory after this many years. Somewhere down the line they needed to pick up a game used jersey, and dump this shit once that happens. This brings me to a fourth question.
How many other cards/products might this have affected?
This was a likely hand packed, highly QCed product that should have never had these issues. What about those other products that cost 1/16th of the price? Can we trust that Panini hasnt cut the same corners with other products? I have to say that my once solid stance is shaken with them, and I am guessing that others will probably feel the same way. Many of the players on the list have been in MANY products, and that only begs the final question.
CAN WE TRUST ANYONE ANYMORE?
I want to say yes. I want to say that the plethora of bad autographs, bad jerseys, and dismantled trust gives us nothing that should shake our confidence, but that just isnt true. Panini made themselves the online bad guy overnight, mainly because they mistreated that trust. This recent post further explaining the situation only makes things worse, even though it is them stepping out from beyond the shadows to own up. The bottom line is that they are only owning up because they got caught, and it seems like they are employing every part of their PR department to try and spin this away from the questions I am posing in the above part of this article.
The industry is not in a good place right now, and it is even more in question now that the company who just signed an exclusive license with the world. These are the people that the leagues are putting their trust in, and we can all but be certain that as long as the checks clear, they could care less. Or, will a shaken public who is coming off the heels of a federal investigation finally have a jumping off point to rid this bully from the yard? Who knows, but this cant hurt.
Here is the article in question if you want to take a look.