After finding a Cowboys helmet with a false signature claiming to be his own at a shopping mall, Emmitt Smith made it his mission to put a stop to the trading of fraudulent collectibles.
The former Cowboys running back founded Prova Group, a company that has created a tech system to track and verify sports memorabilia, in hopes to preserve the market for collectibles, The Dallas Morning News reported.
“People pay significant dollars for these things; they pay their hard-earned cash because they believe in the athlete or the person that they’re collecting items from,” Smith told the Morning News. “When you get taken advantage of, it’s disappointing and it hurts the market.”
After placing a postage-sized chip on a collectible, Prova Group’s smartphone app, Legit, can scan the chip and give the app’s user details about the item to confirm its authenticity.
Smith originally started the company in 2005, but left after the memorabilia market dropped, The Morning News reported. In 2013, Smith revamped the project with a focus on mobile tech and launched Legit this spring.
Currently, Prova Group’s chip functions as a staple for the Dallas Cowboy’s uniform, the newspaper reported. During its production at the factory, a chip is sewn into the player’s jersey and allows a future collector to access events and information about the item.
Smith told the Morning News he hopes the tracking device will evolve into a collector’s staple and spread to the art industry to protect high-value pieces.