Monday, August 19, 2013

Autograph Adventures: New York Jets 2011

With the NFL preseason back in full swing and the regular season fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to share one of my better autograph stories. I had the opportunity to attend the New York Jets game against the Sand Diego Chargers on October 23, 2011 at MetLife Stadium. I went to the game with my friend, who has Jets season tickets. The only reason I could go was because his parents couldn't go, and my father and I jumped at the opportunity to see a live NFL game.

The day of the game, we all arrived in New Jersey around 10am to tailgate. We threw around a football for a while, had some food and drinks, and also took some ridiculous pictures. Maybe if Revis was still on the Jets now, this picture would be more appropriate. Around 11, with not much food left, we all decided it would be a good time to head into the stadium. I wans't planning on getting autographs going into the day, but I always bring a sharpie with me just in case.

Here's a big tip for autograph collectors, especially sports collectors. When you are going to a game, always bring a pen and blank paper or something generic that you can get signed by anyone. You never know who you are going to run into at these games. 

I usually have my autograph book with me, but I decided to leave it at home for the game. Upon walking into the stadium, I was given a roster sheet with all the players for both teams listed on it in various orders. I quickly shoved it in my pocket without even thinking. We had tickets about 20 rows behind the end zone where the Jets tunnel was. Since there were players warming up, we decided to walk down to the front row to get a little closer to the action.

Within five minutes of getting down to the front row, we noticed a player signing autographs right in front of us. Before I even knew who it was, I got out my roster sheet and sharpie and got them signed. I figured out who it was by looking at the tattoo that he had on his right arm. It was Matt Slauson, current Chicago Bears guard. He signed for a few fans that were lined up along the wall, then went back to getting ready. HERE is a video I took of him signing.

As Slauson was signing, another Jet was also signing for everybody. After asking someone standing near me, I found out that it was Dustin Keller, one of my favorite players, as well as a favorite target of Mark Sanchez during his time as a Jet. I brought a blank white filler card, that you get in packs of cards sometimes, instead of a jersey or autograph card. I got Keller to sign that, as well as the lineup sheet. He wanted to personalize the white card, which I had no problem with. HERE is a video of my friend and I getting autographs of him. If there was anyone that wanted an autograph, Keller was more than happy to oblige. Keller easily signed for 40 people, and I wish him the best in his recovery after suffering a gruesome knee injury while playing for the Dolphins this preseason.

My friend was wearing a jersey of Sione Po'uha, the big defensive lineman for the Jets. When we saw him warming up right in front of us, we waved and made hand motions asking if he could come over and sign, as he was wearing headphones and couldn't hear us. See what happened next below.

To say the least, my friend was thrilled to get his jersey signed. I was just as thrilled to have gotten his autograph. In the video, you can hear me mention Po'uha's YouTube channel. I watched it during the NFL lockout, and it is always great to see what a player's personal life is like.

After Po'uha, another Jet came over to sign, and I had no idea who it was until after he signed. He quickly went down the line and signed for everybody. After looking at his signature, which you can see at the bottom of this entry, I discovered it was #94, Marcus Dixon.

When Dixon was done signing, rookie Muhammad Wilkerson was walking toward the tunnel after finishing his warm ups. Without even asking, Wilkerson walked right over to my friend and I and started signing. He signed for everyone down the line on his way into the locker room. Check him out in the video below.

Next, Jamaal Westerman came and signed for everyone very quickly. His signature is very small  and almost unrecognizable because there isn't a number on it. Luckily, someone near me identified him for me. Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture or video of him. Joe McKnight was the next person to come over and sign, and he is pictured on the right. He also signed for everyone quickly before going into the locker room. Like Po'uha and a few other Jets, McKnight was wearing headphones and couldn't really be talked to. HERE is a video of him signing for my friend and I.

Unfortunately for me, Revis ran straight to the locker room without signing for anyone, so my jersey would remain unsigned. However, the other Jets cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, was kind enough to stop and sign for everyone. He stayed in one spot the whole time he signed. I had to reach out as far as I could, and I was lucky to get Cromartie to sign the other side of the blank white card Keller had signed earlier. Cromartie would be the last Jets player whose autograph I got. However, he would not be the last autograph I got.

Even though there were no more players left on the field, we didn't feel the need to go back to our regular seats quite yet. A random Jets employee, I don't exactly know who it is, started playing catch with fans near the tunnel and was slowly making his way towards us. See what happened by clicking play below. If anyone can tell me who that employee is, I would be very grateful. The ball had the word 'Jets' stitched into it, meaning it may have been one of the game balls that was used. It was great to touch a piece of the action, even if only for a few seconds.

The latest notable thing that happened before the game was something that I never would have expected to happen. Someone else was making his way down the line, signing for fans and taking pictures. Immediately, I recognized him from TV. It was none other than Jimmy Fallon. He was signing footballs and any other stuff people had on them. When he came toward me, well, just watch the video.

I got all the Jets to sign the Jets side of the roster sheet. I got Jimmy to sign the Chargers side of the sheet. Toward the end of the video, I ask for a picture with him, and he was kind enough to oblige. Here is the result. His face is priceless. It was totally unexpected, and everyone was thrilled to see him. Jimmy's face was shown on the scoreboards throughout the game to pump up the crowd. It seemed to work as the Jets went on to beat the Chargers 27-21. Plaxico Burress caught three touchdowns and Kyle Wilson made his first career interception.

Here are all the autographs I got at this game.

Dustin Keller
Antonio Cromartie
Various New York Jets

Jimmy Fallon
Thanks for reading. Good luck graphing. I will have a great entry up by the end of the week. I am going to a few baseball games and am hoping to get some cool stuff. 

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