This new Ken Stabler Hall of Fame gem from Panini America wouldn’t exist without sticker autographs

Collectors often bemoan the use of sticker autographs, but there are times where their use can create some cardboard that otherwise could not exist.

The card above is one of those times.

It’s a 2017 Panini Absolute Football Hall of Fame Jersey Signatures card of Ken Stabler and just 49 copies of this one will arrive in packs of Absolute Football beginning next week. It notes Snake’s Hall of Fame status (he was inducted last summer) and it includes a piece of a game-used jersey as well as his signature.

Why is this card special?

Stabler’s Hall of Fame induction was a somber one as he died at age 69 in July 2015 — the summer before his call to Canton — after a fight with colon cancer. Members of his family — one of his daughters two of his “grand snakes” (grandsons) — were there in his place during the ceremony, though it was obvious for years that he should have been there to be honored in-person as one of the top quarterbacks of the 1970s.

This is his first autographed memorabilia card to note his Hall of Fame status as Panini America has used a small number of autographs signed by Stabler — via stickers — remaining in its inventory. It’s actually his second Hall of Fame auto as just 10 cards in the 2016 Donruss Inducted Autographs set arrived with ink last year. Stabler actually appears on three other cards in this year’s Absolute set — a total of just 67 signed cards — after he had just 16 signatures in 2017 Panini Classics that arrived earlier this year.

Generally speaking, Stabler’s signature is not all that rare — he signed for fans regularly through-the-mail, in person and when on-assignment as a member of broadcast teams — but it’s cardboard like this that should show collectors why stickers, when cleanly signed and smartly used, can make for some cardboard classics.

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