At this year’s Reebok NFL Players Rookie Premiere Photo Shoot Presented by EA Sports at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Upper Deck officials were once again busy gathering authentic signatures from the NFL’s latest crop of upstarts to include in the company’s fast-approaching 2009 football card sets. In addition to collecting the signatures, UD also got the athletes take on the signing process itself.
“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 this year’s NFL Rookie Photo Shoot, which was held on May 16, 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 adoring 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 regular-season fireworks to kick off.