Aaron Hernandez’s sticker legacy is in jeopardy.
The Panini Group, which produces various sports and entertainment collectibles, has removed half a million Aaron Hernandez collectible stickers from its upcoming NFL collectible sticker line. What’s even better is that it’s replaced those 500K Hernandez stickers with one million Tim Tebow stickers.
(To get readers who need it up to speed: Aaron Hernandez is currently indicted for shooting a guy in the head. Tim Tebow recently showed up to a police station in tears to turn himself in for jaywalking. They played college football together at the University of Florida, and, as of three weeks ago, they were both on the roster of the New England Patriots NFL team. End sidebar.)
Panini is just the latest to distance itself from Hernandez. Electronic Arts, the New England Patriots, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have all done things to dissociate themselves from Hernandez, who is currently charged with murdering 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. Hernandez pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and five gun-related charges.
Panini sells stickers in “starter” collector packs of ten and had already produced half a million sets, each of which included the Hernandez sticker. The fact that Hernandez was selected to appear in the starter packs was coincidence (and incredibly bad luck).
"We felt strongly that making these changes was the right thing to do, for Panini and our products but, more importantly, for our fans and collectors," said Jason Howarth, Vice President of Marketing for Panini. Howarth added that the Hernandez stickers in Panini’s possession have been destroyed. Any fans who have already received sticker packs featuring Hernandez who would like to exchange the very eBay-able stickers for less valuable Tebow stickers can send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Panini, which will replace Hernandez for Tebow. This builds on a nice week of NFL related merchandise flubs, after Nike confused North and South Carolina on a t-shirt.
Now, can we step back and ask who’s buying stickers? NFL stickers?