Guest article by Jason Jones aka The_Kraken

I was at my local shop a few weeks ago for a signing from NFL rookie Owen Schmitt from the Seattle Seahawks who also went to local college WVU. I purchased a football and an 8×10 to get signed and waited for my turn. It was a decent crowd but it only took me 20 minutes or so to reach the table. After a quick greeting, and a funny comparison of hairstyles (we both have Mohawks), I went to check out my autos. The signatures were great! Nice gold lettering, perfect signatures, and smudge free.

The signing was at the mall where my local shop just so happens to be as well and I wanted to scratch that itch we all have, busting some packs! Unlike the old days of collecting some of us went through you are pretty much guaranteed to get something in every box. Be it game used items, autographs, or serial numbered cards. I can remember opening boxes upon boxes of wax just to get a jersey card that were seeded an astronomical at the time 1 in 2500 packs! Now just about 90% of the cards on the market offer you a chance to get something other than base in every other pack.

I decided to start off with some Bowman Sterling Football. It’s a fairly higher end brand that has a nice value for price ratio. I purchased my mini box and went on to open it. I got a nice Joe Flacco rookie jersey refractor and while not something I could retire on, it was a good start. Next up an autograph, getting better! That is to say until I saw what I could only guess was an autograph. The bottom of the card informed me that the player was Anthony Aldridge but the autograph left me wondering if my two year old daughter snuck her signature in there. It seems Mister Aldridge, in a feat of artful craftiness or sheer laziness, decided that two stars would suffice in letting me know who he was.

I thought to myself “wow, I’m glad I paid $100 for that!” Upon looking in the showcase it seemed this was a sadly growing trend in today’s sports card market. You know what I’m talking about. You plunk down your hard earned money to get the chance to get one of your favorite players’ signature to add to your vast collection only to get something that looks like it may or may not be upside down. Having a wife and a mother in the medical field I know all about unreadable signatures, heck half the time I’m walking out of the doctors office I feel like I may need the help of a military code breaker to get a prescription filled! Be that as it may it just seems like some of the players today just aren’t taking their time to do something as easy as signing their name.

I know I know I should be happy that they take the time at all to sign autographs for fans. Believe me I am. Getting lucky enough to get a signature from a player before or after the game is a highlight. What gets my goat is paying for something that amounts to a paw print from fluffy me neighbor’s cat. It is my opinion that when a player signs a deal with a manufacturer to sign autographs he could take the time to make it as legible as he can. I mean, THEY ARE PAYING YOU TO WRITE YOUR NAME! What could be easier than that? Instead we get gems like these….

Come on man can I at least get a resemblance of a letter? I remarked recently that Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart has a signature that looks like it was signed with his toes!

It could be the players have to sign so many signatures that they get tired and just go from a full name to just a scrawl like Verand Morency’s above. My question to you is this… Is this something the player should take responsibility for or should the manufacturers who are paying them to do it? I posed this question to some members from and these were some of the replies I got.

DieHardCowboy33 wrote: “It’s awful but that’s why I stick to singles and get the occasional pack/box”

xnamyeknomx wrote: “I bet they don’t sign their paychecks that way!!”

Jeremy_Falcons wrote: “I won’t even collect Chris Johnson because of the poor signature he provides.”

I did get a few comments that stated they didn’t care as it didn’t affect the value of the card, but the majority agreed; it is something that should be addressed. Then as in most things in life there is a yin to the yang, a cold to the hot, and the light to the dark. For as many players that have unreadable signatures there are just as many that have superb ones. Players like the Manning brothers for instance, as well as Brett Favre, John Elway, and one of my all time favorites Jeff Blake.



It’s hard to say what if anything could get this trend to stop. I mean, as long as we keep buying the card makers are not going to change a thing. Another poster stated “Don’t even get me started on the Russian hockey players!” Whew, I’m glad I’m sticking to just football!