Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty

At least 167 real human people actually still collect football cards, according to this ESPN report, which also mentions that some number of those people received autographed Dak Prescott football cards that “may not be authentic.”

The scandal involves Panini America, a company that sells football trading cards in 2017, and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Panini America issued a set of signed Dak Prescott trading cards in its 2016 Prizm set; when the cards were evaluated by authenticators at Beckett Grading Services, a company that definitely valued trading cards in 1992, and apparently still does it in 2017, they were found to be machine-autographed:

“They had a very machine-like feel,” Grad said. “You could see the starts and stops.”

The lack of natural flow associated with organic signatures led to Grad’s conclusion that they were done by autopen, a machine that politicians have used to sign documents in bulk since the late 1950s.

“I immediately knew they were autopen,” Grad said. “I’ve never heard of a modern athlete doing this.”

Panini reportedly requires that athletes doing autographed sets sign an affidavit stating that the autographs were made by hand. Neither linked ESPN report indicates whether Prescott actually signed his affidavit, although presumably he could have had the autopen sign the affidavit with its own cold robot hand. Panini America will issue replacements for the suspect 2016 cards, reportedly with genuine autographs and special Dak Prescott holograms. In 2017.

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