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Suspicions Arise Over Possible Fake Anthony Richardson Autos In Panini Prizm

anthony richardson 2023 panini prizm auto

The 2023 Panini Prizm Football release has already proven quite popular. However, it has more than its share of flaws.

In particular, the auto list for this release has been quite weak. It is missing CJ Stroud’s and Bryce Young’s autographs in the set. That is a testament to the diminishing power of Panini, which has found itself having difficulties in obtaining the autos of some of the biggest rookies in football and basketball.

However, now it is facing an even greater issue. PSA has been rejecting some of the Anthony Richardson autos in the product.

The reason? They don’t look like his normal autograph and are therefore considered possibly fake.

YouTube video

The background of fake Anthony Richardson Autos In Panini Prizm

Some collectors who sent in their 2023 Panini Prizm Football Anthony Richardson cards to PSA noticed that it was taking longer than usual to grade them.

One such person posted a Tweet on February 16 with the following message: “WOW, this is a crazy shock and breaking news. Sent in a month ago, the order was taking longer than it should. Come to find out, the AR pulled in the break and submitted by them. Came back as shown, Panini America is being investigated by PSA as to fake AR (Anthony Richardson) autos. Also, PSA is currently not grading any AR autos. I even called Panini and blindsided them. They currently are not grading any AR autos until they have come to a conclusion into this matter. A lot are being held. Thankfully, I just had them send mine back to the breaker, who pulled and submitted it.”

This user then provided examples of known and authenticated Anthony Richardson autos and compared them to the one he sent in. The difference is striking. Richardson has a notably small and neat autograph that leans heavily to the left side of the card.

It is pretty distinctive. Meanwhile, the fake version is very sloppy and oversized and takes up all of the space on the sticker. It is very hard to believe the same person did the autographs. Perhaps what is most insulting here is that the autographs don’t even have a passing resemblance to each other.

Update: Recent Anthony Richardson autos

Over the weekend, a collector posted some screen shots of Anthony Richardson autos over the weekend. There is no word on whether anybody asked him about the autographs but we have these to go from:

Will the real Anthony Richardson Autos please stand up?

If you commit to a full overview of the auto cards of our friend Richardson, the smaller and more concise autograph is the one found on the vast majority of the cards. It can be found going back to his college days.

That also includes cards that were signed at in-person events. Meanwhile, there are fewer of the big and sloppy versions, and they tend to be more recent. My guess is the former is the genuine autograph, and the latter is the (very bad) imitation.

The folks at Blowout Forums also did some investigations and found some serious variations among the autographs. There are some very strange and unrepresentative Richardson autographs in the 2023 Panini Prizm Football. That is no longer a matter of dispute. That is a fact.

What is the explanation of fake Anthony Richardson autos in Panini Prizm?

We have seen several cases of companies issuing cards that appear not to have been signed by the relevant individual. At Leaf Trading Cards, this problem proved quite substantial and may have played a role in the resignation of long-time CEO Brian Gray from the company.

In that case, shady individuals who obtained signatures for the company lied to Leaf and obtained fake signatures for them. That may have occurred in this case. However, traditionally, Panini does a better job of this by getting the autographs directly from the athletes in question and their representatives.

Other people signing cards

There is always the chance that an athlete will ask someone else to sign the cards for them. There have long been rumors that Luka Doncic did not sign all of his autographs. Some believe his mother provided some of the signatures in that case. There is also some evidence that Lionel Messi had his brother sign cards for him in 2017-18. Therefore, this may be a possibility.

For years, it was rumored that agents were signing cards for their clients. It can be hard to get athletes to sit down and sign. However, agents want to maintain relationships with card companies and obtain the money.

Therefore, when athletes get too late on these matters, agents may (quite literally) take matters into their own hands and sign. But that can be risky since agents are not always trustworthy. Therefore, family members and close friends are often the safer option.

Finally, some fans have speculated that Anthony Richardson may have signed the cards when he suffered a shoulder injury. On October 9, 2023, the Colts quarterback Richardson was placed on injured reserve after suffering a grade three AC joint sprain. It turned out to be more severe than initially thought, and nine days later, the Colts announced that the quarterback would miss the rest of the season.

He underwent an operation on October 24, 2023, and is only now back to throwing the ball. Therefore, one Twitter user speculated that he “Could have been signing when he messed up his shoulder. That’s my vote for the difference in signature.”

The reaction of PSA to the fake Anthony Richardson autos in Panini Prizm

We reached out to Panini and their PR representatives at Taylor Strategy for comment but they have not yet responded. However, PSA did release a statement. Also, it’s not surprising since being on top of this issue has made them look good. Here is what they had to say:

“PSA is not currently conducting any form of independent investigation of Panini over the authenticity of these cards’ autographs. We evaluate every autograph submitted to PSA for authentication & grading on a case-by-case basis. If some questions or issues are flagged with manufacturer-distributed autos, we work directly with the manufacturers and athlete representatives to confirm authenticity. We can confirm that this is the case with these multiple variations of Anthony Richardson sticker autographs that have recently surfaced. We are currently in contact with Panini on this matter.”

PSA is saying that they have questions for Panini because of doubts regarding the cards. However, they are not (publicly at least) making accusations towards Panini or the athlete at this point. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

Is this the only case of fake autos in Panini Prizm?

There is a good amount of variation in the autographs players provide. Usually, it is within a normal range. However, there are certainly other cases where the differences strain incredulity. One Blowout Forums user noticed similar problems with the autograph of Caleb Williams, the USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner. Again, we can see that there is a neater version and a messier version. If you look at all his autos, you will notice that higher-end cards like the Bowman U ones tend to have the tidier ones, and the lower-end cards have the messier ones. This is something to watch since Williams will likely be the 2024 NFL Draft #1 pick.

We are indeed seeing more of these issues among the younger up-and-coming athletes. Another example people have noticed is Dequan Finn, the quarterback for the Baylor Bears. His signature is very sparse and half-hearted, to begin with. But they also vary wildly, suggesting Finn has various people signing cards for him.

However, many people were willing to put up with these sorts of shenanigans when they were primarily found in smaller companies like Leaf, Safe, and Wild Card. However, the Anthony Richardson card comes from Panini Prizm, which is about as big as it gets in the hobby.

Should you be concerned about other autos in 2023 Panini Prizm Football?

Yes. As we have seen, the 2023 Panini Prizm Football autograph list is pretty limited and sad to begin with. Now, one of the better rookie quarterbacks appears to have questionable autos in the release. That would already be enough to hit the viability and value of this release. What is the point if you can’t get good rookie autos?

But we may not have heard that last regarding fake autos from this release. Doubts have been raised about another card from this release.

And wouldn’t you know, it happens to be another rookie quarterback? Ouch.

In this case, a Twitter user has expressed strong and seemingly justified reservations about the autos of Cleveland Browns QB Dorian Trevor Thompson-Robinson. Take a look at these two autographed cards side by side. Do they look like the same person signed them?

With so many strikes against this product, we do not advise anyone looking for rookie autos to open the 2023 Panini Prizm Football. The list at this point is far too problematic.

What does the fake Anthony Richardson autos In Panini Prizm mean for Panini?

Panini does not have a lot of marquee releases coming before they lose the football and basketball rights to Topps and Fanatics. Therefore, it has to hurt to receive this kind of body blow to 2023 Panini Prizm Football, which is probably their most significant release.

We definitely can’t explain why this happened. At least not yet. However, this is not a usual occurrence for Panini. I can’t remember when one of their releases was besmirched by fake auto allegations to this extent.

The whole thing smacks of attempts to cut corners. We know that Panini has been involved in legal battles on multiple fronts. The two highest-profile cases involve Fanatics. However, they are also engaged in legal action by other actors such as the WWE and NFLPA.

Panini may have been cutting corners on where they are getting autographs, how much they are willing to pay for them, and how much care the company is putting into verifying their authentication.

Panini has also been under pressure to catch up with its release schedule. Last year, many of their marquee products were released very late, sometimes after the end of the relevant season.

This season, Panini has caught up on some of its products. They have mainly tried to get the top products like Prizm out in a timely fashion. Could they have done so by rushing the auto process? It seems like almost certainly.

Final thoughts on the 2023 Panini Prizm Football Anthony Richardson Fake Auto Scandal

What can we even say at this point? This is another troubling development with the authenticity of rarer cards.

The numbered cards are increasingly becoming unreliable, as 1/1 superfractors have extra copies. There are fake patches and patches that card companies admit are not related to “any specific athlete.” Meanwhile, an unknown percentage of autographs are fake as well. The hobby involves too much money, which leads to deception and corruption. It is the law of life.

But this issue hits Panini far harder than the rest of the hobby. It could not have come in a higher profile release, and it arrived when the Texas-based company was already on its knees. Panini is losing its rights to football and basketball while facing lawsuits and scandals.

This is something the company cannot afford. They would want to milk this release and the few others left of this magnitude to create a reserve to try and survive the coming storm. This puts a dent even in that desperate plan.

The one possible saving explanation would be if Richardson signed while experiencing serious difficulty with his shoulder. That may be possible. If so, collectors deserve an explanation. But that still would not explain problems with other cards, like the Dorian Trevor Thompson-Robinson auto.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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