Dan Marino: The Autograph That Can’t Be Authenticated

Dan Marino is my favorite football player of all time. I’ve gotten his autograph in person dozens of times, literally all over the country from San Diego to Newark to Houston to Cincinnati to Dallas to Pittsburgh. Some I’ve sold, some are in my personal collection, and the rest are for sale on AutographsForSale.com.

The first eight Marino autographs shown below were all obtained in person by me between 1995 and 2005, mostly at celebrity golf tournaments but also at the Dolphins team hotel and at the airport. None were obtained at sit down signings. There are some common characteristics, but as a whole, they have as many differences as similarities. It is my contention that Marino’s autograph varies far too much for ANY third party authentication company to do more than guess. And guess they do. At the very bottom is a PSA/DNA “authenticated” Dan Marino autograph that is almost certainly fake. Yet another reason why PSA/DNA and third party authenticators can’t be trusted under any circumstances.

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Why Are Old Boston Celtics Autographs Hard to Sell?

There are lots of things in the autograph business that make no sense to me. But near the top of my list is why autographs of Boston Celtics Hall of Famers are so hard to sell.

The Celtics are the New York Yankees of the NBA, having won 17 championships including a ridiculous run of 11 in 13 years from 1957 through 1969. The team is still among the most popular 3 or 4 teams in the league today. The franchise hasn’t moved, and has been very careful to maintain links to the past by wearing the same uniforms. Even when the Celtics moved to a new arena, they made sure the floor looked like the old Boston Garden parquet and eventually changed the name to “TD Garden.”

The Celtics basically have their own wing in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Most of the key figures from the Celtics dynasty years through the glory years of the 1980s are enshrined: Red Auerbach, Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, Dennis Johnson, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Frank Ramsey, Bill Russell, Bill Sharman. Most of the aforementioned players were included among the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1997. Hell, Bird, Cousy and Russell rank among anyone’s top dozen greatest and most important players in NBA history.

Red Auerbach & John Havlicek autographed Boston Celtics 1965 NBA Championship 16x20 poster size photo (TriStar)

Yet with the exception of Bird — and DJ when he died too young in 2007 — I’ve seen minimal demand for autographs of any of these legends since I started my business in 1999. It’s not like they are easy to get. Auerbach died in 2006. Havlicek, Sam Jones and Parish are extremely reluctant to sign for free.  Cousy and Cowens will sign for free sometimes but typically personalize any item of value. Bill Russell is impossible to get for free, and he charges an arm and a leg at signings.

It’s true that most NBA fans today never saw Bird play, much less Havlicek or Cousy. But that hasn’t stopped people from buying autographs of Yogi Berra or Willie Mays or Jim Brown or Gale Sayers or Johnny Unitas or Gordie Howe or Bobby Orr or Bernie Parent. Yet somehow, these old Celtics legends who sign a lot less and won a lot more championships for their sport’s premier franchise, are difficult to sell. Was the NBA a less prominent sport than the NFL? Maybe during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but not during the 1980s (thanks partly to Bird). And the NBA certainly was equal or greater to the NHL during that entire era.

So to be perfectly honest, I have no explanation. If you do, please let me know.

Does PSA/DNA Know Anything About Anything?

Okay, so in my last post I established that PSA/DNA doesn’t know anything about golf. In case you think that was an isolated instance where maybe one of the crack PSA/DNA “authenticators” had diarrhea and ran to the bathroom, allowing an intern to write the Letter of Authenticity containing three glaring mistakes, here are a few more examples of their utter incompetence:

PSA/DNA can’t tell the difference between the autograph of Oscar nominated actress Kate Hudson and O.J. Simpson house guest Kato Kaelin (this one courtesy of AutographAlert.com):

PSA/DNA confuses Kate Hudson with Kato Kaelin

PSA/DNA isn’t aware that Jack Kemp, one of the greatest quarterbacks in AFL history and later Bob Dole’s running mate in the 1996 presidential campaign, used an autopen machine to sign his mail during the early 1990s. This fact is common knowledge among football autograph and card collectors, since Kemp even autopenned the “certified” autograph cards randomly inserted in the 1991 Pro Line football card set, and it’s been noted in the Beckett price guides since . . . 1991. But PSA/DNA went ahead and “authenticated” an autopenned Kemp autograph anyway:

Autopenned Jack Kemp autograph "authenticated" by PSA/DNA

And now I’ve just learned that PSA/DNA’s so-called baseball bat “experts” are so dim-witted that they confused Sandy Alomar Sr. with Sandy Alomar Jr. twice on the same Letter of Authenticity (this one courtesy of Autograph News Live):

PSA/DNA confuses Sandy Alomar Jr and Sr TWICE on same LOA

I guess I have to ask, does anyone at PSA/DNA know ANYTHING about ANYTHING?