One of the common responses among FSU partisans to the news that James Spence Authentication had over 2,000 Jameis Winston autographs in its databases was to question whether many of these items were in fact signed by Winston. My initial response to these questions was to roll my eyes. Given the number of autographs Winston has signed over the last few years, I wasn't surprised to see a large number of authenticated items, and questioning the authenticity of the items in the database seemed like special pleading.
But yesterday, one of our premium message board posters, GraniteStateNole, posted a few pictures comparing known authentic Winston signatures with some of those that had been authenticated by JSA, and I have to confess that there were some interesting differences between the JSA samples and the others.
JSA has come under fire in the past for authenticating bogus items, including signatures by individuals dead at the time the item was supposedly signed and misspelled names.
And after looking at some of these items, I now have my doubts that they are all authentic. Following are two known samples of Winston autographs, signed for Florida fans at baseball games last year, complete with reminder of the FSU-UF football score from 2013:
Take special note of the "J" in each signature. Each features a sweeping stroke with a loop at the top of the letter and a short curve to the left at the bottom. As someone whose first name also starts with a "J," I know that letter is the most distinctive and consistent element of my signature. My guess is that the same is true with Winston, and though there's bound to be some variation depending on whether he's sitting or standing, the basic swoop pattern is always going to be the same. (We all practiced autographs when we were in middle school, right? Right?)
The "Go Noles" also distinctively features a capital "L" in the middle but a lower-case "e" following that. Compare those samples with the JSA-certified samples below:
The thing that sticks out to me in all these samples is the difference between the "J" in the JSA samples and the ones known to have been signed by Winston above. The JSA samples all feature a much fatter, more curved top to the "J" with a single straight stroke down rather than curving to the left. Again, my "J" is consistent in both aspects, and I'd expect Winston's to be similarly consistent.
The "Go Noles" on the first two JSA examples is also inconsistent with the two known examples, featuring a capital "E" rather than a lowercase. That's a smaller variance as Winston could choose to alter that, but my guess is that he tends to use the same upper/lowercase letters when writing that phrase, as autograph signings have become so automatic for him.
None of this is a smoking gun that these autographs are inauthentic, but I do think it's reasonable to question whether all of these supposedly authenticated items are indeed from Winston's pen.
Jameis Winston Syracuse Postgame