The Panini America NFLPA Rookie Premiere Recall: Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers

September 14, 2014

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The first thing you notice about Carolina Panthers rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is his freakish physique. The 6-6, 240-pound frame that somehow seems even bigger. Massive mitts roughly the size of iPads. The athletic ability that defies conventional wisdom. After all, players that big simply aren’t supposed to be able to do what Benjamin does. But Benjamin does.

He did it for Florida State in the BCS National Championship game last season, snaring the title-clinching touchdown toss from Jameis Winston with 13 seconds left in a thrilling triumph over Auburn. He did it again last week in his NFL debut, grabbing six passes for 92 yards and another game-winner, this time with a sleight-of-hand, how’d-he-do-that? 26-yard number from Panthers back-up Derek Anderson that helped secure a 20-14 victory over Tampa Bay. In the process, Benjamin earned Week 1 2014 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors.

Clearly, the Panthers, like the Seminoles before them, are finding out that they’re in good hands when the ball is in Benjamin’s. It’s why collectors have been spending plenty of their own benjamins on Benjamin — or at least on Benjamin’s best Panini America Rookie Cards.

In late August, Benjamin’s 2014 Panini VIP Gold 1/1 Autograph sold for $290. Earlier this week, Benjamin’s 1/1 Mirror Black Autograph from 2014 Certified Football sold for $257.02. In the last three months, only one Benjamin trading card has sold for more.

Off the field, Benjamin is soft-spoken and matter-of-fact. Ask him if he knew when he broke the huddle prior to that championship-clinching grab last winter that Winston was coming to him and Benjamin simply says “Yes.” Was he nervous? “Nope.” Indeed, there’s a quiet confidence in Benjamin that suits him just as well as his powder-blue-and-black No. 13 Panthers jersey.

And when talk turns to Panini America’s business of producing trading cards (as it did during the 2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere), Benjamin asks as many questions as he receives. He’s genuinely interested in the process, and in making sure to fulfill his part of the relationship. Right about now, that includes signing the 2014 Flawless Football Rookie Cards currently in Benjamin’s possession.

In late May at the aforementioned NFLPA Rookie Premiere, Benjamin spent some quality time with Panini America signing autographs . . . posing for pictures . . . conducting interviews. We hope the resulting video and image gallery that follow will help you get to know Benjamin a little bit better — just like we did.

Enjoy, and stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance for another 2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere Recall feature in the coming weeks.

Here’s the interview . . .

And here are the images . . .

 

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