Sunday, July 20, 2014

Autograph Adventures: Jadeveon Clowney

If there is one sports memorabilia company that you know you are going to get a good product from, it's Steiner Sports. They have the exclusive autograph rights to some of the best athletes in sports, such as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Henrik Lundqvist, and Carmelo Anthony among others.

A few weeks ago, they held a contest on their Instagram account for a free ticket to the Jadeveon Clowney signing they were having on July 18. Somehow, I won the contest and gave my info to the Steiner representative on the phone. The person on the phone told me I had won a free autograph on a flat item from Clowney, the top pick in this year's NFL Draft. A flat autograph from Clowney at this signing cost about $80, so I was thrilled to have won a free one.

After winning the contest, I immediately had trouble deciding what to do. I could have bought an 8x10 photo directly from Steiner for $6. But I took a different route. As cool as 'The Hit Heard Round The World' is, I didn't want a college photo signed. Eventually, I found a good picture of Clowney in a Texans uniform and printed it out on glossy 8.5x11 paper in my house.

Fast forward to Friday, July 18, the day of the signing. After going inside the Steiner Store at Roosevelt Field Mall, I identified myself as the contest winner and was given my ticket to the signing, which you can see on the right. The signing was scheduled to begin at 6:30 and go until 8 p.m. I was going to wait for my friend to show up before I approached Clowney so we could both meet Clowney together.

The line of people wasn't more than 20-30 people deep during the whole signing. However, at 7:30 p.m., my friend still hadn't showed up. There were no other fans in line for the signing, so Clowney decided that he was going to get some dinner. He and his manager went to Chipotle in the mall, where he apparently was hitting on girls and nobody really knew who he was, which is surprising because there aren't many people who are six and half feet tall walking around the mall. As Clowney was walking toward Chipotle, my friend showed up. After talking to the people at Steiner Sports, they assured me that I'd meet Clowney in the private signing room.

After about a half hour of standing around in the Steiner Store, my friend and I were told it was time to go to the private signing room. After going down a few escalators, stairways, and down a few creepy hallways in the bowels of the mall, a door was opened. Inside the room, tables filled with photos, helmets, footballs, jerseys and other items were waiting to be signed by the man sitting in a chair getting items handed to him.

I was standing in the room with my friend waiting to meet Clowney. The other people in the room said he had to sign a few more helmets before he could sign my item. Realizing that it might take a minute to sign the helmets, I figured I would take a picture of him signing a helmet. Unfortunately, it came out blurry (see right) and Clowney realized that I was taking a picture. "Let me see that," Clowney said pointing at my camera.

Photo Credit: Jadeveon Clowney
I handed Clowney my camera because as logic dictates, when someone bigger and stronger than you asks you to do something, you do it. He then questioned me as to why I was taking pictures. With my camera on his lap, Clowney signed a couple more helmets before questioning as to why I was taking pictures. After I said something that probably didn't appease him, he took the camera, pointed it at me and said something I won't ever forget. "You can tell your friends that Clowney took the f***ing picture," he said as he took a picture of me that you can see on the left. I was holding the photo I brought to get signed as well as a sharpie one of the Steiner people handed to me.

After taking the photo of me, he took a few selfies with me, which you can also see below. After taking one, he asked to see it because he thought it was blurry. He did agree that it was blurry, and took a few more selfies with me on my camera, which also turned out slightly blurry.
Photo Credit: Jadeveon Clowney
Photo Credit: Jadeveon Clowney

Photo Credit: Jadeveon Clowney
Sometime in the middle of everything, I can't exactly remember when, I told Clowney that I had won a contest to get to meet him. After explaining what the contest was to him, he clearly wasn't impressed. "You're a real winner," he said jokingly. After two selfies with me, I said my friend needed to get into the picture, so Clowney took a few selfies with my friend in the frame as well. One of them isn't that blurry. You can see that one on the right. The other ones are just too blurry. It's a good thing Clowney has a day job, because he wouldn't do well as a photographer, or at least a selfie photographer.

Eventually, Clowney signed the picture I had printed and then one of the Steiner people took a better picture of us. The picture came out perfect, as you can see on the right. The autograph was perfect as well, as you can see below. One of the Steiner people put a small hologram sticker on the bottom corner of my photo and handed me a matching certificate of authenticity. I've never gotten one of those at a signing before, and that is just another example of how Steiner is top notch when it comes to sports memorabilia.

Overall, it was an unforgettable experience. It was the first time I had ever been to a signing at the Steiner Sports store, and I will be back again whenever I can make it to a signing.

I'll end with a lesson for all who may meet Jadeveon Clowney: Don't take pictures without him knowing. He may steal your camera and take selfies on them.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Autograph Adventures: Eric Decker

If you have been following this blog for the last little while, than you may remember the David Tyree Autograph Signing I went to last year at a Sports Authority. This year, they and another signing at the same exact Sports Authority, as well as many others throughout the New York/New Jersey area. This year, the signing was for current Jets receiver and former Bronco, Eric Decker.

The signing was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m, and I arrived with my friend at about 11:45. Unlike last year when the line was pretty short, the line was very long this year, even an hour before the signing was going to start. We were probably 80-100 people deep in the line by the time the signing started. Decker arrived right on time and began singing as soon as he sat down. Wristbands were given out to indicate who would be getting an autograph. I'm pretty sure the first 200 people got wristbands, but I could be wrong.

After about a half hour of waiting, my friend and I approached Decker. My friend got his mini-helmet  signed. I handed Decker a photo of him in a Jets uniform that I printed out earlier in the day. He quickly signed it in black sharpie and handed it back to me. I handed my camera to one of the Sports Authority people in hopes of taking a picture with Decker, but all I got is what you can see on the left. I shook Decker's hand, and then was forced out.

The signing itself was almost too organized. There were about a dozen employees within 10 feet of Decker, and there were strict rules. The most interesting of which was that you can't take a selfie with the athlete. I don't get the motivation for that, but it is what it is. Here is the photo I got Decker to sign. I'll be at another signing later this week, it should be fun.  Thanks for reading!