Saturday, July 14, 2012

4 comments Athletes Charge For Their Autograph. Get Over It

Today, Cam Newton is holding an autograph signing session in Charlotte with Bo Jackson and Larry Johnson. Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer, which is a paper who seems to cover the Carolina Panthers in-depth only when absolutely necessary (on the game days, if a Panther player is arrested, etc.) seems upset that Cam Newton is charging for his autograph while signing in the state of North Carolina. Apparently there are certain jurisdictions Newton can or can not charge for an autograph. Since they are called the "Carolina" Panthers does this mean Cam Newton can't charge for an autograph in South Carolina? Scott Fowler doesn't make this clear. Either way, this is ridiculous. Much like the somewhat manufactured tattoo controversy from last year, this non-issue started off locally and was picked up by the national media. Let's keep Charlotte and Scott Fowler's bizarre need to pretend Cam Newton shouldn't charge for an autograph locally, people. The South already has an undeserved reputation for being out of touch and backwards, let's not feed this perception by pretending Cam Newton is the equivalent being the star quarterback at a Charlotte-area high school. Newton is an NFL quarterback and his autograph is worth something.

Most every national athlete charges for an autograph.

Backup QB Jets charges $160 for an autograph and $75 for a picture. He charged that amount before he ever took a snap in the NFL. Want Backup QB Jets to speak at an event? Better call William Morris Talent Agency and hope you can afford the fee.

Depending on the item being signed, Aaron Rodgers can charge from $99 to $299.99 for an autographed item.

Want Tom Brady to come speak with your group? Better hope you have $75,000-$100,000.

Saint Drew Brees even charges for an autograph. I'm betting he isn't going to stop charging for autographs now that he was given a $100 million contract either.

It's not unprecedented for a quarterback to charge for his autograph. What's so bizarre is Scott Fowler admits this isn't unprecedented and Cam Newton has signed autographs for free at Training Camp, but Fowler still has an issue with it. It's clearly an accepted practice and a practice Newton seems to only occasionally participate in. It just doesn't feel right to Fowler. This is crazy to me. He and other writers who manufacture controversy like this need to stop acting like Charlotte has a CFL team and Cam Newton is just a local hero who needs to learn to stay in touch with his roots. I realize the Charlotte Observer doesn't cover the Carolina Panthers like they are an actual NFL team (outside of fluff pieces, articles on how practice/game went and "how is Player X's rehab going," the Observer doesn't seem too interested in covering the Panthers), but they are an NFL team, and if you want the city to attract further NFL talent then you have to accept something as little as an athlete charging for an autograph isn't really a big deal.

On Saturday afternoon at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, Cam Newton will be glad to sign an autograph for you.

It’s going to cost you, though – $125 if he’s signing a photo, $150 if he’s signing a football and $175 if he’s signing a jersey. If you want an inscription like “To John, Best Wishes” added to the signature, that costs an extra $50.

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So an athlete wants to use his autograph, which is a purchasable commodity on a secondary market like Ebay, to make money for himself? Pure rubbish. What happened to the good old days when an athlete would sign an autograph for free on a football and allow the autograhee (not a word, I know) to sell this autograph for $75 on the secondary market? Things were so much simpler back when the athletes pretended their signature wasn't a commodity that can be sold and would stay willfully blind to the underground autograph market which sells merchandise with the athlete's forged signature on it.

I don’t like this.

Of course not. How dare Cam Newton charge for his autograph and the Charlotte-area have a choice as to whether they show up to pay for Newton's autograph. If this is a world where Cam Newton's autograph can't be free, then this isn't a world I want to live in. A free autograph is a right, not privilege.

But I do understand it. Newton has the right to charge three figures for his autograph in his backyard, just as I have the right to disagree with him doing so.

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Scott Fowler understands why Newton charges for his autograph, he just thinks it is something Newton shouldn't do...which makes me think Fowler really doesn't understand why Newton charges $125 for his autograph.

I'm also interested in this "backyard theory." So there needs to be a certain line where Cam Newton will and will not sign autographs for free. If you meet Newton in Henderson, NC then he should sign the autograph for free, but if you meet him in Virginia then pony up $125 if you want an autograph? Is that how it works? After all, in Virginia it isn't North Carolina anymore and Virginia citizens are not entitled to a free Cam Newton autograph like North Carolina citizens are.

I live about 85 miles away from Charlotte. Does this mean I get a free autograph or should I have to pay? If I saw Cam in Greensboro, would this be his backyard where I should get a free autograph, or would I be considered just down the street from Newton's house where I would have to pay $125? I feel like there needs to be a map with lines drawn (and no gerrymandering allowed!) so I understand what parts of the state of North Carolina (the United States as well?) are Newton's "backyard."

And to be clear, this doesn’t mean Newton will stop signing free autographs. He already signs free ones, by the thousands.

Read Hmore here: Scott Fowler doesn't like that Cam Newton charges for autographs, even though he doesn't always charge for autographs. So if Newton doesn't always charge for autographs wouldn't it makes sense for a person to go to training camp and get his autograph rather than wait in line and pay for it? It's almost like people had free will to get an autograph or not today and the issue is being completely overblown.

He also signs for free at other various charitable events, at youth speaking engagements – he did yet another one Wednesday at Ardrey Kell High – and on merchandise donated to charity. All that will continue.

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What a dirty, pathetic money-grubbing asshole. It's a bait-and-switch. First, Newton signs autographs for free at charity events and donates merchandise to charity as well, then he starts charging for autographs. You can't have it both ways Newton! Start charging the charities for your autograph or give the people free autographs! You have no right to control the use of your signature like this!

Just get over it. The guy signs autographs for free all the time. No one was being forced to pay for an autograph today, so Newton isn't stealing money from people and those who got his autograph chose to pay for it.

Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are among the hundreds of athletes who do occasional signings, for instance, and both of their signatures are more expensive.

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So I guess the obvious question that arises in this situation would be, "Why is it wrong for Cam Newton to charge for his autograph?" He is supposed to be above this because he plays in a small market? Why does he have to continually prove he is a good guy to everyone? At what point do sports columnists leave Newton alone and stop making him prove he isn't the selfish, self-absorbed asshole some thought he was prior to the 2011 NFL Draft? Does the idea of Cam Newton charging for autographs move too close for comfort to proving the false narrative that he is really a jerk as true? Is this a narrative sports columnists still want to see as true? Why criticize Newton for charging for an autograph and completely ignoring most other NFL quarterbacks do the exact same thing?

"Oh, I knew he was too good to be true. He charges for autographs. That's what's wrong with him. There's a red flag. He's just in it for himself."

This will be the sixth autograph signing that Newton has done for GT Sports Marketing since he signed with the company in early 2011, Takahashi said. Three shows in Alabama and two in New Jersey came before this one.

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But didn't Newton go to Auburn, which is located in Alabama? Yes, he did, but that doesn't count as being in Newton's neighborhood. Pony up some cash, citizens of Alabama, if you want Newton's autograph.

Carlos Fleming, Newton’s marketing agent for IMG, said Newton agreed to sign a memorabilia deal in part to deal with the fake and unauthorized merchandise that is rampant in the sports collectibles industry.

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Plus, other athletes make money off their signature and there is nothing wrong with Newton doing this.

Fleming continued. “There’s a real underground market out there. So this sort of thing is in the fans’ best interest. It’s an opportunity that wouldn’t exist at all for fans if it wasn’t set up in this way. They get real access. I can’t emphasize the authenticity factor enough.”

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OK, so that’s the argument for the signing.

But this just doesn’t pass the smell test with me.

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Which is ridiculous. Fans in Charlotte can sell underground Newton merchandise (that doesn't have his real signature on it) just as easily as fans in any other city can. In fact, because Newton plays in Charlotte and could attract a larger crowd than many other cities I would guess there could be a bigger underground market in Charlotte for Newton merchandise than in other cities.

Newton has done almost everything right in Charlotte since he arrived.

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He's done well to contradict the narrative that he is a selfish, me-first type player who wants to be an icon and an entertainer. I'm glad Cam Newton has behaved himself and impressed Scott Fowler. He's just waiting for that misstep though isn't he?

This, though, is a false step.

How dare Cam Newton do something the sports media doesn't unanimously agree with him doing. I hope Newton gets a tattoo of a towel on his head inked across his chest and he displays this new tattoo at the autograph signing. That would pretty much make the Charlotte-area media go insane, because it combines the fact Newton has a tattoo with the image of him with a towel on his head. It's well-known in Charlotte that if a player puts a towel on his head on the sidelines then that means he hates his teammates and has a bad attitude.

White towels on the head=bad attitude.

For some reason, it feels different to me when Newton is charging for autographs in Alabama. That was from a different time in his life. That’s like Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith going back to Dallas to charge for autographs (which they do).

In Charlotte, though? Newton shouldn’t charge for autographs in his current hometown. That’s part of just being part of the community.

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Part of being part of the community is allowing the underground market of fake Cam Newton-signed memorabilia to continue unabated and never charge for your autograph? This "community talk"...Charlotte is a big city. It isn't a small close-knit town where people sit on their front porch and wave to their neighbors.

This is such an overreaction to such a small story. There isn't a big story here because Newton is doing something that most other star athletes will do.

You see Cam in Charlotte? Lucky you. So then he signs the napkin you thrust in front of him – or he doesn’t, which he also has the right to do – and that’s that. No money is exchanged.

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What a jerk, signing a napkin for free. On Saturday-only if you wanted Newton to sign a picture of himself and write a personal note that will cost $175. The world is unjust and Cam Newton is permanently excommunicated out of the Charlotte community.

I don’t know exactly why geography matters to me in this case, but it does.

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Probably because you couldn't find anything else to write about and wanted to make a big deal out of nothing. Probably because you want to nitpick every little thing Cam Newton does because you know it will give you pageviews. Probably because you seem to want to encourage a culture in Charlotte where athletes are micro-analyzed so much they no longer would care to be a part of the community. I'm just spitballing right now as to why geography matters to Scott Fowler because I truly don't know either.

In many ways now, Cam and Charlotte are intertwined. Good neighbors. Newton has recognized that by increasing his charity work and community service and starting the tradition of handing balls to fans in the stands after touchdowns – using his superpowers for good.

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Newton even gave his record-breaking football to some random girl in the crowd. It's clear he isn't hungry to make money off every single thing possible thing he can. For ONE DAY he is charging for an autograph. One day. The fact this has become a big deal says more about those people making this a big deal then it says about Cam Newton.

But still.

The Panthers pay Newton plenty of money.

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The Charlotte Observer probably pays Scott Fowler plenty of money. Does that mean he should write articles and columns for smaller newspapers or websites in the Charlotte-area for free because he is a part of the community? If a sports talk radio station wants Fowler to do 2 hours every week about the Carolina Panthers would/should he do this for free because HE HAS TO CONTINUOUSLY PROVE HE IS PART OF THE COMMUNITY! Absolutely not. It's ridiculous to even suggest because the Panthers pay Newton "plenty" of money he shouldn't charge for an autograph.

Charging for autographs in Charlotte seems a little cheap.

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At least Scott Fowler didn't end the column with a line like, "Newton charging expensively for an autograph seems a little cheap to me."

Regardless, this is a non-story. Other NFL quarterbacks charge for their autograph and one of the quickest ways to alienate a star (I'm not sure we can call Newton a "star" at this point or not) is to nitpick everything he does. Lose the idea Charlotte is a small community where everyone helps each other out. This isn't true. Spare the outrage over Newton charging for autographs for a few hours on one Saturday. It makes you seem naive about Newton being an elite pro athlete in high demand and blind to certain realities about NFL underground merchandising.


koleslaw said...

But I do understand it. Newton has the right to charge three figures for his autograph in his backyard, just as I have the right to disagree with him doing so.

It's a topic sentence and a conclusion all rolled into one! We shave off the first sentence (actually, "But I do understand it" is a fragment) and it's small enough for a tweet. Wow, sports journalism is easy.

Also, fyi, for the low cost of $75 (plus travel expenses) I will fly to your hometown, rent a car, drive to your house and slap you in the face. I bet that's at *least* fifty bucks cheaper than what Backup QB Jets would charge for the same service. I do have a right to set my own prices.

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, bloggers are ruining the English you can clearly see.

Backup QB Jets would not dare slap anyone. Or if he did, he would immediately have his PR people cover it up and scrub all indications he slapped a person in the face. Gotta keep that public persona clean, even if takes a little deception.

Also, the line was long for Cam's autograph. I was there for it and no one seemed to care about the price. I didn't get an autograph b/c I don't care to pay for one, but others did and they seemed pretty please. It's amazing how the idea people can do what they want with their money and it seems people wanted his autograph.

Anonymous said...

Famous people didn't put a price on autographs, the collectors(some) did. Nevertheless, autographs now have a market and are valuable. As with anything that is in demand, its price depends on the producer of the product(autograph).

Autograph signing reminds me of Bart doing his chalkboard punishment. If i were them i would charge more for the making me do such a tedious activity.

If you want a memento ask to take a selfie with them.

Upcoming Autograph Signings said...

I think of autograph signings like other types of appointments. How much does it cost to see your doctor for 15 mins? What about about a lawyer? At least a hundred bucks each. Most autograph signings are $50 or less and you get to talk to some of the most famous people in the world.