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Sunday, May 1, 2016

What's wrong with autographs?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Well, the NFL is at it again. While I was doing my usual daily reading on espn.com Tuesday, I saw yet another ridiculous piece of news that came out of the organization that has become more of a circus than a credible athletic organization at times this year.

Apparently, not only several staff members at a Kansas City television news station, but also many analysts around the country are all up in arms about the actions of a couple of Chiefs players after Sunday's loss to Denver. Apparently, after Kansas City's 17-9 loss, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles went into the locker room and got an autograph for his mother from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe waited for Manning to leave the locker room on his way out of the stadium to get a picture with him.

Just about everybody seems to be weighing in on this issue for one reason or another, including former Chiefs offensive lineman Rich Baldinger, who happened to be in the KCTV studio when their segment on this issue aired. Baldinger -- who played 12 NFL seasons, including a stint that lasted the better part of 10 seasons with the Chiefs from 1983-'92 -- said he never asked for another player's autograph during his playing career, so apparently, that makes what Bowe and Charles did some kind of mortal sin.

Bill Williamson of espn.com quoted Baldinger saying, "I don't understand it at that moment. I think it just goes to show what this team's about. I don't know if winning's really that important."

Really? Give me a break, Baldinger.

A guy in his position should know better than just about anyone else that professional athletes have a short memory. They have to in order to be able to perform at the highest level on a weekly basis, regardless of what happened in the last game.

And not only that, the longstanding rule for media personnel such as myself that prohibits getting autographs while covering professional sports doesn't apply to players. In fact, it happens all the time that players exchange jerseys or get autographs from one another. Bowe and Charles aren't anywhere near the first players to do it; they just happened to be the ones who got caught by people who were trying to find as much to bash about the Chiefs as possible.

Personally, I'm right there with Williamson on this issue. The rule prohibiting media members to get autographs is totally fine by me because as Williamson said, I'm no longer a 12-year-old boy with the urge to collect a scribbled name.

Bowe and Charles obviously have opinions on that subject that differ from mine and Williamson's, but you know what? That's perfectly fine. I say, if one NFL player wants an autograph from or a picture with another, let them have it.

Honestly, what's the big deal?

I get it that when Bowe said he not only wanted the picture he got, but also wouldn't mind catching passes from Manning, who is more than likely a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, it wasn't a good idea. But that's just Bowe. He says what's on his mind and a lot of times, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

This is one of those times. He's made it more than clear enough on multiple occasions for me to believe pretty strongly that he wants to stay with the Chiefs. He was just being a fan.

I also get it that it looks bad for players on a 1-10 team that just got held out of the end zone for the third time this season to do things like that, but come on. As I pointed out earlier, it happens all the time.

Athletics coaches often stress to their players that they have to get over losses or poor performances quickly so they can move on and perform at their best next time around and I would encourage everyone who has been out there making a big deal out of this to do the same. Get over it, people.

This sort of thing has been going on ever since the creation of professional sports and will never stop. Personally, I've always known that and I think it's perfectly fine.

Charles and Bowe are simply being singled out for it because they got caught at a convenient time. I simply can't accept the possibility that it means they don't care about the success or failure of their team.

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Eric Wade
Beyond the Bench