The 2017 trading card season hasn’t been pleasant to Panini America so far. Last week, football cards that were supposedly signed by Dak Prescott were sent back from Beckett Grading Services as not authentic. The cards apparently all are from 2016 Panini NFL Prizm product. The cards are what many collectors in the card collecting world call “Sticker Autos.” That’s where a card company like Panini sends sheets of stickers to a player to sign and return to the card company. The stickers are then slapped on cards and the card company usually guarantees authenticity of the autograph. Card companies usually require players to sign a sworn affidavit stating they signed every single sticker themselves. Prescott has proclaimed his innocence during the ordeal, buy someone somewhere knows what’s going on with the auto pen scandal.
Beckett authenticator, Steve Grad, of Beckett Authentication Services was the person who made the determination that the football cards weren’t signed by Dak Prescott, but by an autopen machine instead. Grad made a video showing three examples of 2016 Panini Prizm Dak Prescott auto cards that were signed by an autopen. He showed how easy it was to see that the football cards were signed by a machine. Grad also pointed out three examples of the product where an autopen was easily used. He pointed out the dots at the beginning and the end of the signatures. He showed in the video how the number four on the card was definitely signed by a machine and how the signature looked shaky or choppy. The whole ordeal could cause some collectors to be reluctant of acquiring the cards or any autograph card for that matter, but Grad stated the this is a rare occurrence. “Does this happen all the time? No. Does all athletes use this? Absolutely not.”
Panini took a few days to answer the issues with the Prescott auto cards, but eventually responded with an announcement as some collectors and customers were growing irate and wanted answers. Panini’s Hobby Marketing Manager, Tracy Hackler, post this response on the company’s blog.
Panini America executives and quarterback Dak Prescott met on Thursday to investigate in detail a limited quantity of Prescott-autographed trading cards that were issued as redemptions for Panini America’s 2016 NFL Prizm trading card product.
Last week, after being contacted by an autograph authenticator and following an internal quality control process, Panini America officials determined that a small quantity of Prescott autographs received for 2016 Prizm Football may not be authentic.
As an immediate precaution, Panini America began recalling all Prizm Football Dak Prescott autograph cards, stopping deliveries to 110 customers. Not all shipments were able to be recalled, however, and 167 cards were ultimately delivered to customers.
It was also discovered that some of Prescott’s Prizm cards are still unaccounted for. Panini has committed to remanufacturing all the Dak Prescott Prizm Football cards, which Dak will sign to replace all the autograph cards within the Prizm collection. All the remanufactured cards for the Prizm collection autographed by Prescott will feature a special Dak Prescott hologram to differentiate the new cards.
Panini is in the process of contacting the remaining customers affected and recalling the 2016 Prizm Football Prescott redemption cards to replace them. The company urges anyone offered a 2016 Prizm Dak Prescott autographed card not featuring the special hologram to contact Panini America immediately.
On Thursday, Prescott and Panini America agreed to a long-term extension on his exclusive autographed trading card agreement to commit to delivering quality and authentic products to collectors. Prescott has autographed thousands of Panini America trading cards during his rookie season, has participated in multiple authenticated signing sessions and received additional card shipments throughout the year and returned them to Panini America to be incorporated into products. Prescott and his representatives have worked closely with Panini during this process since becoming aware of the discrepancies and have no knowledge of how those cards were returned to Panini.
This is year that Panini has had authentication issues with their product. Back in April, it was brought to light that Panini produced football cards from their 2016 National Treasures NFL Gear Quads Laundry Tag series that was the first authentication error for the company. The cards were authenticated on the back of the card as being game used, but the patches inserted in the cards were from replica jersey maker Mitchell and Ness. Then in May, Panini recalled Takkarist McKinley autographed cards from their 2017 Elite Draft Picks Football and 2017 Contenders Draft Picks Football sets as they became aware that the cards were not signed by McKinley.
With all of the issues that the company has had with authentication errors this year, the sole blame has to fall back on Panini. The company obviously has quality control issues that collectors will hope that they can correct quickly. Card companies use to have the players sign cards and stickers in front of a representative in previous years, but have seem to move away from that practice. The reasoning for that most likely comes down to budget issues, but it’s still every card company’s responsibility to provide proper authentication of their products. Even after this most recent ordeal, Panini announced that they have signed Dak Prescott to a long-term contract extension.
The authentication issues will cause some panic and fear among collectors and card dealers. Buyers will be reluctant to purchase Dak Prescott auto cards from this year while sellers will be afraid to sell the cards with the worry of the cards not being authentic. Collectors are well aware of the many fake cards on the market and that’s why they rely on card companies to be legit. When issues like the current one comes out, it very well could cause some collectors to leave the hobby. It’s doubtful that this autopen scandal will hurt the value of Dak Prescott football cards, but it will definitely hurt the sales of his cards. This will also have collectors wondering if Prescott has used the autopen before to sign his cards that weren’t caught as fake and this will also have collectors wondering what other players have done the same thing. Panini owns exclusive football card rights to both the NCAA and NFL so there isn’t any alternatives for football card collectors.
If you happen to own a Dak Prescott autographed card for 2016 Prizm, you should contact Panini so you can return the card and get a replacement. Actually, it may be wise to have any Dak Prescott autographed card from this year authenticated just to be on the safe side. Panini is willing to work with their customers to make it right, but they have to do a better job ensuring their product is what they say it is. Who knows what the future will hold though. Maybe Eli Manning will trade one of his game used helmets to Dak Prescott for an autographed football card.