Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Panini replaces Hernandez with Tebow in sticker set
Posted Jul 18, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Jul 18, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Panini America has moved swiftly to delete former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez from its product.
Panini officials confirmed that the company has removed stickers of Hernandez, who is in jail as a murder suspect, from 500,000 of its sticker books in its NFL Stickers Collection product, which had been produced but had not yet gone into circulation. And beginning with the release of Rookies & Stars football on Aug. 21, Panini will replace Hernandez in future products with Patriots third-string quarterback Tim Tebow.
Panini official said the company has produced 1 million stickers of Tebow. The stickers will be handed out at events — including the induction ceremonies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month — or given to customers via a mail-in swap program.
All collectors have to do is mail the Hernandez sticker along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
Tim Tebow Sticker Swap
5325 FAA Blvd., Suite 100
Irving, Texas 75061
If they choose, collectors also can download the Tebow replacement sticker for free at iCollectPanini.com, Panini America’s official online store.
Stickers also will be available at NFL stadium venues on game days, Panini said.
Tebow will be sticker No. 40 in the set and will be part of the Patriots’ sticker page.
The stickers came in packs, but Panini automatically placed 10 different stickers directly into the albums to help jump-start a collector. Coincidentally, Hernandez was one of the 10 players chosen.
“We felt strongly that making these changes was the right thing to do, for Panini and our products,” Panini vice president of marketing Jason Howarth told espn.com.
Panini is following the lead of Electronic Arts, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Patriots, distancing itself from Hernandez. The former University of Florida star was charged three weeks ago in the murder of 27-year-old semipro football player Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and five gun-related accusations and is awaiting trial in a Dartmouth, Mass., jail, but these organizations have taken quick action.
EA Sports removed Hernandez from its “Madden NFL 25” and “NCAA Football 14” video games. The Patriots lost at least $200,000 after offering fans a replacement jersey of Hernandez; more than 2.500 fans returned the Hernandez jersey and took a different one in exchange. The Pro Football Hall of Fame removed a photo of Hernandez in action that had been displayed at the football shrine after fans complained.
The move was a costly one for Panini, but the right thing to do. If Hernandez should acquitted in his murder trial, then I am sure he will make an appearance in a future card set.