Update (3/6): Leaf has confirmed that Johnny Manziel is the mystery redemption in 2013 Leaf Metal Draft Football and 2013 Leaf Valiant Football. The cards come with a cut signature and each has original art. Leaf confirmed the cards would begin shipping immediately.
Since announcing both 2013 Leaf Metal Draft and 2013 Leaf Valiant Football, the card maker has been promising a huge surprise that, according to the sell sheet, is "too big for the industry to handle." That's a pretty big claim. So who could it be? There have been a lot of rumors that it reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. But "Johnny Football" is still with Texas A&M, so it couldn't be him, could it? Now that 2013 Leaf Metal Draft Football is out, let's look for hints. Here's a screen grab of what collectors see when they redeem one of the redemptions:
First off, let's look to the obvious. The card is a cut signature, which makes the possibilities endless. Leaf, and any other company, can acquire an item, cut it up and attach it to a card. That makes Johnny Manziel a possibility. But it doesn't rule out the pope, Oprah Winfrey or your neighbor either.
Next up, it's an art card. Like the cut signature, this gets around possible licensing issues. Everybody is still fair game.
But is Leaf giving us some hints. The fine print mentions "university," which likely narrows things quite a bit.
The biggest possible hints that Leaf's might have Johnny Manziel autographs on the way are also the boldest. At some point, someone had to choose the colors for the border and fonts. The maroon and white match up with Texas A&M's team colors. Coincidence?
Also notice the choice of fonts. I might be stretching it a little, but those letters are somewhat similar to the Aggies' lettering.
The screen grab says the actual cards will start shipping within a couple of weeks, after 2013 Leaf Valiant Football is released. Then the speculation can end collectors will have final confirmation as to whether it's Johnny Manziel, the pope, your neighbor or someone else. That said, if the clues line up, it looks as though Leaf is giving it away without actually giving it away.