Posted 12 July 2012 - 12:41 PM
I have a free autograph from both Cam and Smitty, the only thing it cost me was a couple trips to the practice field to catch them at the right time. After just about every practice I've attended, Cam will sign a few autographs, mostly for kids.
There are a few professional autograph hounds out there that have a box of stuff with them and clearly couldn't give a sh*t about the Panthers... both Cam and Smitty make a point of avoiding those guys and I don't blame them one bit.
Smith in particular gets very animated about it, I've seen him walk down the line past all these "usual suspects" and say "NO, NO, NO, NO, NO" as he passed each one of them. I was out there another time when he lectured some girl about why he wasn't signing for her after he politely said no and she asked him "why not?" (with a WTF? tone in her voice). He told her that he knew she was with the guys up on the hill and they had already asked him to sign stuff 3x that week, so he wasn't going to help them support their ebay business. She turned around and walked away and he said "Watch, she's going right up the hill to those guys" and sure enough, she did.
I've only ever asked Steve to sign one thing, and he signed it without hesitation and even personalized it with: "To Dave, all the best! Steve Smith # 89". I realize that personalizing it was also a way of making it hard to sell on ebay, but that's fine with me because I have no intent to sell it or any other autographed items I've collected. The point of my story is that if you don't abuse the privilege of asking Smitty to sign something for you, he will happily sign.
I've also only ever asked Cam to sign one thing and I came bearing gifts when I did. I printed out a poster size copy of that "SuperCam" pic and brought it to practice with me. As he was approaching me I told him he could have it if he would sign my jersey and he did, without hesitation.
The difference between my experience and this paid opportunity is that I was not guaranteed to get either of these autographs where I would be if I had paid and I have no problem with that... it's up to me to decide if I want to pay for a guaranteed autograph from Cam, it's not as if I can't get one for free as long as I'm willing to wait and not be a d*ck about it. Cam does plenty for charity, including donating autographed items, so I don't even want to hear about that.
These guys are not obligated to sign for anybody, they do it because they want to, not because they have to. The problem is the autograph junkies that show up at the practice field every day with a box of stuff and then get pissed off when a guy won't sign... they ruin it for everyone.