Now that Prestige and Elite are on shelves, and we have gotten an extended look at Bowman Signature, I have been struck by something that is not a result of design or look of a card that a company can control. For right now, I am confident in saying that although there are some exceptions, this might be the worst class of rookie “give up” signatures in a long time.
Here are the good:
Here are the worst of the worst:
As player attitudes shift towards a more celebrity status, if not only as a direct correlation to the rise of social media and the prominence of the NFL in popular culture, they have been less likely to participate for signings in a way like we used to see. This is also exacerbated by the sheer amount of signatures they are forced to sign at the Rookie Premiere, which a handful of collectors believe is more bad than good. Although I am not one of those people, I do sympathize with how many autographs are necessary, especially for rookies who are included at a higher rate.
Regardless of the amount of signatures the rookies are responsible for, it should not bring quality down to where it is. When you have people like Griffin or even Brandon Weeden, who’s stylistic appeal is relatively unmatched this year, it makes the rest look like they werent even trying.
To make a long story short, no one should ever be Vernand Morency, poster child for give up signatures.
I have two experiences to relate, both of which should shed some light on the player mentality. The further one goes back in history, the more legible the penmanship becomes. However, its obvious that guys like Torii Hunter and Harmon Killebrew are of different generations tied by the love of a beautiful signature. I had the pleasure of meeting both over the years they spent in Minnesota, and on each occasion I asked about the unmatched quality of their signature. Killebrew stated that a signature reflects the mark of a man, and that the fans should have a good representation each time they get one. He believed in signing the way he did, thousands of times over the years, because he knew his fans appreciated it as his legacy outside of baseball.
Hunter was the same way, having taken direct coaching from Killebrew his rookie season. Each player had signed just as many cards as anyone else, and both still have a signature that you can read each individual character. Hunter just said that Killebrew made an impression on him.
Obviously, the idea that a signature is representative of a personality is a notion that is agreed upon by many, even in a non-sports situation. If someone just doesnt care, they wont sign in a way that is even remotely appealing.
Card companies have stood by the fact that they cannot affect the way a signature looks, and sometimes that they even get done. With the growing number of Primadonnas out there, I guess I am not surprised.
When players make millions of dollars a year, its rare that an autograph contract will mean anything for them. However, for everyone else, the immortilization on a trading card may be the only fanfare they ever receive in a public fashion. Why not make the most of it?