This is a huge fucking problem, especially with someone as high profile as Dak is. According to a number of collectors, BGS has returned a number of cards from the recent run of autographs from 2017 Prizm, siting that the autographs do not look to be authentic. Similarly, reports are saying that Panini has already started cancelling a number of outstanding redemptions and pulling shipments of cards set to go out. The prevailing theory is that the autographs Dak Prescott returned were auto penned, or machine signed, instead of signed by the player. As you can imagine, this has the makings a of ANOTHER giant clusterfuck that Panini seems to be terrible at avoiding as of late.
This is the second autograph issue that Panini has had this year, and if you go back through the last decade, one of MANY that seem to have gone without recognition. There are so many of these types of autograph problems that I cant even remember the giant list of players that have had issues. Dez Bryant, Cam Newton, Shaquille O’neal, Whitney Mercilus, Cordarrelle Patterson, among others.
All of these cards have been questioned by collectors at some point in the past:
It all stems from the way autographs are obtained, and Panini has been playing with fire more than most. Players will sign a document that guarantees the authenticity of their signatures signed during the course of the autograph deal. The companies send out boxes of cards to be signed, and it is on the player to return them. Sometimes they may send a representative to guarantee the autographs get done, but this method of trusting the player has been the primary method for Panini’s plans since as long as they have been in the american card market. Their competitors have chosen a bit of a different path from what my sources have said.
Personally, seeing news like this is both troubling and wonderful at the same time. Troubling that Panini is finding themselves the subject of more autograph authenticity problems, but wonderful in that maybe collectors will finally come to understand what the fuck has been happening as a pattern for years on end. This is NOT the first issue that collectors have called out. As long as this method is used for obtaining autographs, the players have no reason to deliver.
The reason is that the method by which investigations are to be carried out. First, lets say the player has a buddy sing the cards. He gives the cards to his agent or assistant to ship back, and the cards get packed out. Some Joe Collector who collects that player realizes the cards are a bit off. He tweets to Panini, who is responsible for carrying out any look at the cards. They ask the agent, who obviously doesnt want his player to get in trouble, so he says the cards are real. Panini then gets back to the guy who asked originally, and says the player confirmed authenticity. In a similar conflict of interest, Panini doesnt want the cards to be labeled fake, so they close the investigation, as a problem could undermine the quality of their reputation and product line, and cost would be incurred to launch a recall. Again, no reason if its just one guy complaining on a forum that only a few hundred people would ever see. Basically the player’s word on a legal document with a confirmation from the agent. They have done their work and case is closed.
With auto pen, its a bit different, because it isnt a matter of who signed the cards any longer. Its also quite easy to identify auto penned autographs in a large quantity, which should be easier to hold the player accountable. Im just saying, autograph authenticity has always been an issue in the industry, going back decades. The hobby just doesnt really care to believe that the companies could be as fallible as they are.
Hopefully Panini figures out a way to make this right, as I am waiting on one of these cards myself. Its time for us to understand what we are really up against here, as its clear that the card companies need the players much more than the players need the card companies. That means its not as simple a solution as we could ever imagine. The NFLPA will likely have to get involved to get any real results, and they might not care enough to do so. In the end, Panini needs to do better inspections of returned merchandise, as its clear they have slipped more times than most would ever know. That’s where the rubber meets the road.