Dear Mr Chen,
This Manziel case has intrigued me. In doing research of PSA and JSA authenticated items, there are indeed quite a few Manziel items that have been authenticated. Looking further, of all his JSA PSA items, 75% or so of what has been authenticated are photographs. While I make no presumption of what he has or has not signed, I wanted your opinion on whether that number seems on target? I've researched a LARGE sampling of these JSA PSA cert numbers so feel pretty comfortable in these numbers. Being frank, I'm curious about your thought on the possiblility of forgeries which have inflated the overall numbers?
Also, I've found that several of these eBay sellers are all the same person or team, using 4 or 5 user names to sell products. Is this a common eBay practice in your experience? I'm not a journalist or any research professional, just a curious fan who saw your previous blogs and articles about Manziel. Thank you for your insight.
There's a lot that we don't know and probably will never know. Also I should emphasize that I have never seen Manziel's signing habits in person, never gotten his autograph or owned a single autograph of his. Still, here is what I am willing to say:
1. There is no doubt in my mind that the dealers who claimed to have done paid signings with Manziel are telling the truth. All the evidence points to this, such as the photos and video of Manziel signing, and the large number of JSA and PSA/DNA authenticated items with signatures too legible to have all been signed in public situations.
2. I have issues with both JSA and PSA/DNA as far as competence and integrity. However, I use both companies when I have to, and in this particular case, I have no reason to suspect that they authenticated a large number of fake Manziel autographs. Therefore, if Manziel or his dad or attorney is trying to use that explanation, I don't think it's going to work. Their defense will probably come down to the lack of evidence that money changed hands, and that the dealers have no reason or legal requirement to cooperate with the NCAA.
3. There ARE many fake Manziel autographs on the market and probably hundreds already purchased by unsuspecting buyers, not authenticated by JSA or PSA/DNA. The overwhelming majority of them were sold not on eBay, but Amazon.com. How do I know this if I've never owned a Manziel autograph? Because the Manziel sellers are the part of the same outfit that has been selling fake autographs of all the hottest athletes on Amazon.com for years using different account names. I notified Amazon many times about this problem, and not once did they take it seriously.
4. A large percentage of photos makes complete sense. Photos can be produced in quantity for next to nothing. Footballs, helmets and jerseys, while they will sell for more, have a significantly higher initial cost, and are more problematic to store and ship. If I were setting up the signing, I would have done a lot of photos along with some footballs, full size helmets, mini helmets and jerseys.
5. eBay allows the same person to have more than one selling account, therefore it is entirely possible that what appears to be 4 or 5 sellers may actually be fewer. I wouldn't say it's a common practice, but it's perfectly legal in eBay's eyes.