For the first time in more than eight years, Troy Polamalu autographs will be showing up on football cards this season.
Panini America has secured Polamalu signatures for insertion across several of its 2011 NFL trading card brands, including a small number of on-card autographs. Others will be on stickers. For a player as popular as Polamalu on a team as collected as the Steelers, the announcement is significant.
During Polamalu’s rookie season of 2003, Panini America had some signed cards from the defensive dynamo in a select number of rookie-themed products. Today, those autographed Rookie Cards from 2003 Rookies & Stars and 2003 Playoff Contenders carry an average value of $450 according to Beckett Media.
Following years of attempting to reach additional autograph agreements with Polamalu (and not receiving as much as a counter offer from Polamalu or his representatives), Panini America steadfastly went after the six-time Pro Bowler and 2010 Defensive Player of the Year for 2011.
Somewhat shockingly, Polamalu responded this time.
“Oh, I was shocked,” said Joe White, Panini America’s NFL Acquisition Manager. “But due to his immense popularity and the demands on his time, it was difficult for Polamalu to find the time to sign. But he carved out some time for us this summer — and it probably didn’t hurt our case that we were the only company to sign him to an autograph deal during his rookie season.”
Polamalu autographs will be included in the company’s remaining 2011 NFL products, including 2011 Absolute Memorabilia, 2011 Crown Royale and 2011 Certified.
“This is awesome news for us and we’re obviously thrilled to have him back in the fold,” White said. ”But it’s even better news for the countless passionate Polamalu collectors who’ve been waiting almost 10 years for new autographed trading cards. Make no mistake about it, this is huge news in collecting circles.”
Several weeks ago, Panini secured Charles Woodson autographs for the first time since his rookie season of 1998.