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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

$ign, $ign, Everybody $ign

While perusing Deadspin, I came across a blog post of an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about how A. J. Hawk and other Buckeye players who won't be back next year are keeping busy (and making good money) on the autograph circuit in Ohio. This struck me as odd and extremely slimy. It's not shady - this is certainly legal and not against NCAA rules. And I don't have a problem with the players doing it. They haven't made money from football (though that's debatable at Tosu), and they don't have any college eligibility left to jeopardize.

I just find it creepy that adults would be so into it. I'm sure there are a lot of kids at these signings, too, but the adults are the ones paying the $25 which isn't a great lesson for kids (plus $15 EACH for "2002 National Champs," "2005 Lombardi Winner," "To Wayne"). This just gives me the same uncomfortable feeling I get when I read junior high kids getting recruited by college coaches - this isn't something that should be going on in our society. Maybe I'm just an old fart, and think the whole paying for an autograph thing is ridiculous. Hell, I think just getting autographs is silly, though I can understand why kids do it. But I get the feeling most of the guys shelling out $25 (or $40, or $55, or even $70) to A. J. Hawk aren't kids. And that's what gives me the slimy feeling. Well that and the fact that the guys who sell sports memorabilia are all a strange amalgam of "The Simpsons" Comic Book Store Guy and the salesmen at the ubiquitous mattress stores.

Incredibly, this practice has become commonplace at Tosu. As the article says, "For Ohio State senior football players, there are three distinct seasons each year. Regular season. Bowl season. Autograph season." Does this go on at other schools? The article implies that it doesn't. I haven't heard about newly finished Wolverines making the autograph rounds, but then a lot of people might not have wanted John Navarre's John Hancock. What about at other schools? Has Matt Leinart been sitting at a table with Pete Rose, pocketing $25 per signature? Or is he too busy chasing skirts? Is Vince Young wearing out Sharpies for $25 a crack, or is he still dodging USC (and Michigan) defenders? And here's the biggest question of all: What does A. J. Hawk need with a BLUE pen? I thought blue was sacrilege in Ohio.

UPDATE: According to the Wizard of Odds, this does go on at other schools, including Vince Young at Texas and Michael Robinson at PSU. Of course we shouldn't be surprised that Mr. Starched Shirt himself, Jim Tressel, participates as well.


IC said...

Interesting post (and excellent title), Benny.

The only meaningful difference between the Simpson's Comic Book Guy and the pathetic scarlet and gray-clad "adults" who salivate while waiting and paying for their gridiron heroes to sign a piece of paper is that few of those tOSU fans have ponytails.

Matt S said...

From somebody who unfortunately lives here, these guys are in the Card/Memoribilia shops at the mall every weekend. It's friggin' amazing that there are morons who line up and pay to get those. Plus, if you were an old Buckeye, you can use to your name to get a job here. For example, Bobby Hoying and Greg Frey are in real estate here, and what the hell do they know? That's only one example.