They may have signed a lot of autographs in college, but putting on an NFL uniform is a whole new ballgame, especially when trading card company deals are involved.
Upper Deck officials were gathering authentic autographs from the NFL’s latest crop of rookies at the NFL rookie photo shoot a couple of months ago. Those signed trading cards will wind up in the company’s upcoming football card products.
For the players, it’s an early introduction to the league and is also aimed at having them experience the collecting hobby in a fun way.
“The annual NFL Rookie Photo Shoot provides us with a great opportunity to capture the best of the NFL’s newest class of top-notch players at one venue, where we have their undivided attention and they are all eager to participate,” said Brandon Miller, Upper Deck’s Football brand manager.
Upper Deck took the May event as an opportunity to not only educate the players on proper signing practices, but to ask for their opinion on what it means to sign autographs for fans.
Some interesting autograph revelations were shared by many of this year’s rookies. Top overall pick Matthew Stafford from Georgia, for instance, who will now be signal-calling for the Detroit Lions, once signed a prosthetic leg. Chris “Beanie” Wells (No. 31 overall), the Ohio State running back now set to carry the ball for the Arizona Cardinals, once signed a baby.
“To sign an autograph for someone is really important to this game. It brings the fans into this game and makes them a part of it,” said No. 5 overall pick Mark Sanchez from USC, who will be throwing spirals for the New York Jets this fall. “I remember being that little kid and asking Carson Palmer for his autograph. It’s pretty special when you get to have that exchange with the fans.
Upper Deck’s 2009 Philadelphia Football release, which hit store shelves last week, is one of the first products to feature hard-signed autographs from this year’s NFL rookie class and many of the players added special inscriptions to the cards. Some of those examples include Sanchez signing “El Matador” and No. 22 overall pick Percy Harvin (Vikings, wide receiver) from Florida penning “See you next year Tebow.” The next product scheduled to include rookie signatures will be 2009 Upper Deck Football, which is set to debut the first week in September – just in time for the league’s regular season openers.
Here’s the video. Hopefully these guys will be as enthusiastic about signing autographs after their fourth or fifth year in the league: