When 13-year-old Asher Mezzatesta, son of Carvers Bay High School Athletic Director Jeff Mezzatesta, found two San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw rookie cards in his fourth box of 2020 Panini Score NFL Football Cards, he was ecstatic because he is a big South Carolina Gamecocks fan.
“One of my dad’s students has season passes and sometimes he takes me,” Asher said.
However, Asher soon realized there was a big mistake on the cards — there was a picture of former Gamecock tight end K.C. Crosby on them instead of Kinlaw (both players donned a No. 3 jersey while at the school).
“I was mad because he went to school in Goose Creek and I have friends down there,” Asher said. “I was (also) mad because it’s his rookie card and that’s something important that needs to be fixed. He gets one rookie card and it’s not going to come back. He had to sign a ton of misprint rookie cards.”
Asher also feels badly for Kinlaw because of his tough childhood.
“It’s worse because of what he’s been through his entire life,” he said.
When Kinlaw first came to the U.S. with his mother and two siblings from Trinidad and Tobago, there was a period where he was homeless in Washington, D.C.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Kinlaw was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference after recording 35 tackles (15 of them solo and six for loss), six sacks and two fumble recoveries.
He was drafted by the 49ers as the No. 14 overall pick in May.
Asher has thought of several ways Panini can rectify the situation.
“They could give Javon 10,000 or so of his correct rookie cards, and the first 10,000 kids that write to him and start the ‘Kinlaw Kraze’ get a free Javon Kinlaw rookie card,” he said.
Asher also suggested that Panini could create a new card with the right picture and make it rare; Panini could produce a correct card and allow for an exchange with the wrong card; and, finally, Panini could include his correct rookie card in a later set.
“I’m doing this for Javon,” Asher said. “I’m doing this because it’s the right thing. I hope people will take note of this. Some people might not give it a second glance, but this is important to me.”
Asher felt so strongly about this that he posted about it on his father’s Facebook.
“He said, ‘Can I have your Facebook?’” Jeff Mezzatesta said. “He wanted to let his voice be heard.”