Saturday, January 19, 2013

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Home Depot Center

          It was yet another busy graphing weekend in Southern California. Between the Olden Polynice signing, the Marcel Dionne signing before the Kings game, the L.A. Fit Expo, and the WWE Show in Ontario the graphing community was very spread out. However me and my friend David, from David's Autograph Signings, decided to attend the more low key NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Home Depot Center. While the actual roster was a bit of a disappointment, the coaching staffs were full of legends such as Art Monk, Darrel Green, Isaac Bruce and Dick Vermeil. This was a gold mine for me and David considering the lack of football signings here in SoCal.

          I got to the Home Depot Center around 12:40 and met up with David, who had been waiting for the coaches already. We set up just outside the front entrance and began to keep our eyes out for some of the coaches. The first pair of coaches to walk in were Hall of Famers Darrel Green and Art Monk. Both Green and Monk were two guys that I really wanted, however both of them completely blew us off and Monk even told us that he doesn't sign memorabilia. I really didn't see a good reason why they would blow us off. There were only five graphers and only me and David actually approached the two, honestly, looking back, I can't say whether I was more upset at them for blowing us off or more disappointed that the day had started off like that. Luckily Andre Reed helped cheer the spirits up. He walked up about five minutes later and signed for all of us. Reed was nice enough to sign my Buffalo Bills mini helmet as well as take a photograph with me.

          I really wish that Andre would've made it into the Hall of Fame. The guy has more receiving yards than half of the wide receivers already in "The Hall". In my opinion the only reason why he never got in was probably due to the fact that he never won a Super Bowl. Anyways the next player to walk in was Isaac Bruce. As you can see in my photo with Andre above, I was sporting my throwback Joe Montana jersey. If you've met me before you'll know that I'm a huge 49ers fan and have proudly represented the team through some of it's worst years. One guy on the team that I specifically remember was Bruce. I don't know why but he was my favorite wide receiver in his two years with the club. The funny thing was that as I was about to approach him he saw me and said, "Nope, you're a 49ers fan, don't even bother" or something along those lines. David and the other three graphers all went up to him and got the autograph, so I figured that I'd try. When I asked Bruce he said, "Joe Montana? What's up with that? I'm a Ram." I replied with, "Yeah, but I was alive when you played with the 49ers!". I still can't tell if he was serious or if he was just joking around, but either was he signed my 49ers mini helmet for me and an official NFL football my father.

          Bruce was the last coach to walk in pre-game so David and I went back to our cars, put our signed stuff away, and went inside the stadium. When we got inside the stadium both teams were on the field warming up. We headed down to our seats which were first row just to the left of the fifty yard line. Unfortunately there was no graphing going on inside, and the only person that signed was Coach Vermeil, who signed in a completely different area than where we were. The lack of graphing did however allow me to take some photos of the stadium itself and from our seats.

          Around the second quarter I started looking on Twitter and saw tweets that DeSean Jackson and Eric Decker were both in attendance as well as some other NFL players. I had come prepared with an Eagles mini helmet in case Jackson was there and had an extra Broncos mini helmet since Terrel Davis didn't show up. Unfortunately we found out that Jackson had left a few minutes ago and we had no luck finding Decker. I then looked back at my phone and saw some Twitter alerts. I found out that I had one the grand prize from Pannini America from a contest that I had entered earlier in the day. We went over to the Pannini suite and I was given my prize. I got a white paneled football signed by Herm Edwards and Dick Vermeil, the two coaches, a box of Pannini Black cards (Retails for insane amount of money), a ton of NFL sticker cards, and a bag with a Collegiate Bowl sweatshirt, polo shirt and tee-shirt.

          Not only did I get all these awesome things, but I also got some key information from one of the Pannini representative's that all the NFL players were hanging out a suite about 100 feet down from the one we were in. We walked over to the suite and immediately saw Eric Decker, the guy we had been looking for earlier. Both David and I were able to get Decker as he left the suite.


          We also saw T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the suite. Unfortunately I didn't have anything for him to sign, so I just got a quick photograph with him.

          That was pretty much it for autographs. We attempted to get autographs after the game at the same spot that we graphed pre-game. However the only guy to sign was Priest Holmes. David was able to get Homes on his Chiefs mini helmet, however I did not have anything for him so I didn't bother. No sign of Monk or Green, which was a bit of a disappointment since David and I were hoping that they would sign for us this time around, but overall it was a good day. On top of getting the autographs I won some sick items and a box of cards that I would never buy for myself. I would like to thank David, who tagged along with me today. I would also like to thank everybody that helped put on the event as well as some of the players for being cool and signing. Now it's time to rest up for next weekend, which will probably be the busiest autographing weekend in over two years. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!  

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