Let's begin with this premise: The Panini America Acquisitions and Customer Service teams take pride in producing industry-leading results founded in the tireless pursuit of getting the job done. Sometimes that happens in short order. Sometimes it can take years . . . and years . . . and years. In fact, this particular story has taken almost half a decade to complete and underscores, at least in this case, the importance of always keeping up with Joneses.
Let’s begin with this premise: The Panini America Acquisitions and Customer Service teams take pride in producing industry-leading results founded in the tireless pursuit of getting the job done. Sometimes that happens in short order. Sometimes it can take years . . . and years . . . and years. In fact, this particular story has taken almost half a decade to complete and underscores, at least in this case, the importance of always keeping up with Joneses.
Indeed, no matter how many thousands of autographs have been acquired and redemptions successfully fulfilled by Panini America through the years, one burning question has persisted seemingly every day since late in the 2011 product season: What about Julio?
Julio, of course, is Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, an NFL superstar since he first stepped into the league as a first-round pick from Alabama. Jones was a bona fide headliner in a stacked 2011 rookie class that also included Cam Newton, Von Miller, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, J.J. Watt, Mark Ingram and Tyrod Taylor. As a result, he instantly became one of the most collected players in football.
But a peculiar thing happened on the way to producing some of his key 2011 Rookie Cards: Jones stopped signing. He didn’t sign Contenders . . . or National Treasures . . . or Totally Certified . . . or Limited. Inserted in their place were redemption cards that seemed, at the time, to be just a few quick signing sessions away. But those sessions never materialized.
Weeks became months. Months became years. Years stacked on top of years. Throughout the process, as Jones was steadily becoming one of the best receivers in the NFL, Panini America officials worked diligently behind the scenes in hopes of securing arguably the most important sit-down in the history of redemption cards.
Along the way, Panini America officials found out what the game’s best cornerbacks have known for a while: Jones is almost impossible to catch up with. The more his statistics bulged, the more anxious fans and collectors holding his redemptions became — and rightfully so. They called. They emailed. They Tweeted. They took to the message boards. Some lost hope altogether and opted to swap out their Jones redemptions for something comparable, convinced that he was never going to sign.
But the folks inside the Panini America Acquisitions department never lost hope. And they never gave up. They kept working the phones, and remained in frequent contact with the NFLPA and Jones’ representatives in hopes of one day landing that elusive “Yes” that would lead to Jones signing the thousands of key cards that had been safely in his possession since he received them during his rookie season.
Last week, that day finally came. Julio Jones has signed.
We’ll give you a second to let that set in.
Jones signed his 2011 Contenders Football cards. And his 2011 National Treasures Football cards. And his 2011 Limited Football cards. And his 2011 Totally Certified Football cards. And his 2011 Playbook Football cards. And his 2011 Plates & Patches Football cards. And his 2011 Prime Signatures cards.
He signed . . . everything.
It took five years, but at long last, the Falcon has landed. This job is done. Now . . . it’s on to the next one. But in the meantime, do yourself a favor and check out the results of last week’s epic signing session in the must-see gallery that follows.