Like many younger athletes, his “autograph” isn’t much: the first four letters of his first name. Collectors have gotten used to weak ink on their trading cards in recent years but now comes word that Atlanta Falcons’ first round draft pick Takkarist McKinley left Panini America with someone else’s four-letter word on many of the stickers used to produce his early 2017 football cards.
After suspicions apparently arose online just after release, company officials talked with McKinley’s representatives and confirmed that “some” of McKinley’s 2017 Elite Draft Picks and 2017 Contenders Draft picks don’t carry authentic autographs from the former UCLA defensive end.
“While this is an extremely unfortunate situation, Panini America officials have agreed to work with McKinley and his representatives to rectify the issue by offering to replace any McKinley autograph cards from the aforementioned products with versions featuring authentic McKinley signatures,” the company stated on its blog.
Collectors who have McKinley autograph cards from either product can send them in for replacement to this address:
Takkarist McKinley Auto Replacement
5325 FAA Boulevard, Suite 100
Irving, Texas 75061
There was no word on how long it would take to replace those cards but McKinley remains in recuperative mode. He suffered a torn labrum and underwent surgery on his right shoulder March 6, just after the NFL Scouting Combine. That may have played a role in why he didn’t sign Panini’s stickers or wasn’t able to, but clearly someone else did.
SAGE says it has also been told its McKinley signatures are real.
We received confirmation from the player and his agent both that the autographs obtained and used by SAGE are 100% authentic, signed by Takk
— SA-GE Collectibles (@SAGECards) May 7, 2017
Signatures of some other recent marquee names have been disappointing. Dalvin Cook, considered among the elite running backs in the 2017 draft signed his full name on some stickers but just “DC 4” on others. Last year, Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott primarily used “EZE” as his signature. Sales, however, didn’t seem to suffer after Elliott blossomed into the NFL’s top rookie.