Can I have your autograph please?
Posted August 7, 2013
Updated August 8, 2013
The sport of autograph collecting has received a lot of attention lately. See Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater and Braxton Miller. They all had signed merchandise for sale on line.
How did it get there is a basic question, but more importantly, were they paid for their autographs?
It can be as simple as a player signing an item for a person who decides to sell it. There's not much an athlete can do about that.
It can be as complex as a player signing MULTIPLE items that a person will sell after sharing a lump sum of money with the athlete who signed.
Here's a very telling segment from an article in CBS Sports by Bruce Feldman, who interviewed Rob Rudolph, owner of a memorabilia company.
Rudolph says his company has paid many pro athletes for the signing of items, but says when it comes to college athletes, "it gets a little sketchy. ... we've had arrangements to sign memorabilia for us as soon as their bowl game ends. We have many bowl games down here in Florida. It may be two hours after the game ends, we're gonna meet at this hotel room. We'll buy their used game jerseys, their cleats. They'll sign stuff for us. That's a gray area because the moment they're signing and getting their money, their eligibility is done, but when the arrangement is made before their eligibility. ... that's what I can say. I have never had a paid signing with an eligible player, but I know that is going on all the time. All the time."
Note to athletes. If you are still eligible and someone asks you to sign multiple items, they are going to sell it. If they offer you money and you take it, you risk your eligibility. Go ahead if that's what you want.
Professional athletes are a little more savvy when it comes to autograph seekers.
I have seen autograph hounds with the intention to sell send a youngster to ask a player for an autograph. I specifically remember a Cleveland Indians player watch the whole thing unfold. He recognized the "Dad" from previous days of collecting autographs. He told the kid, 'I'll sign for you but tell that gentleman back there he has enough of my autographs.'
It's a tough call for an athlete. To sign or not to sign? When do they stop? There will always be the disappointed person in the group that didn't get one.
I have collected autographs over the years to display in my "sports room" at home. Stand-alone signatures are quite often impossible to read. I prefer autographs on a picture or an item that quickly identifies the player or coach.
Michael Jordan, Dale Earnhardt, Walter Payton, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams are a few signatures that help decorate my room. I fondly remember the moment I got them, a brief connection while they signed.
Please note: I didn't knock down a kid to get a player's autograph or send one to ask for me and they are NOT for sale.
It's been a long time since I asked for an autograph, but in the right situation and setting, I would add to my collection. There's nothing wrong with getting an autograph.
It's the intention of what to do with it that carries many shades of gray.