This just in. Athletes ask other athletes for autographs. It happens, and it probably happens more than you think. The fact that Tashard Choice got caught asking Michael Vick on camera makes the situation unique and has sent people into a frenzy. I’m having a hard time digesting the reactions. People are making it sound like Choice stormed Vick like a crazy Bieber fan, started snapping cell phone pics and then asked him to sign his forehead. Buzz Bissinger, who wrote Friday Night Lights one of my all-time favorite books, tweeted the following: ” WHAT THE F*CK IS AN NFL PLAYER ASKING ANOTHER NFL PLAYER FOR AN AUTOGRAPH? GROW THE F*CK UP.” Does that seem like a commensurate reaction?
Choice explained that the autograph is for his nephew, who is 2-years old. Who does Tashard Choice think he is getting an autograph for his nephew? I guess immediately following a game you just lost is not the best time to be asking for autographs, but what is the alternative? I would argue before the game is even less appropriate. Should he have his agent contact Vick’s agent and work it out that way? Come on. Choice is a young guy so maybe he didn’t go about it the right way, but I promise you guys sign things for other players all the time. For family members, for charity, and even for their own personal collections. I have some autographs in my possession that were acquired when one player asked another for their signature. The horror.
So, I would say, please leave Tashard Choice alone. And, don’t bother yourself getting worked up over this story. Especially if you are a Cowboys fan. You have plenty of other things to be concerned about. The issue in this story that is buried and not being talked about is actually the piece that I find the most interesting, and that is Michael Vick’s status among his peers or especially the guys in the league that are about 25 years old or younger. Vick is almost universally revered by these players, and I think that explains a lot. I think it explains Choice’s actions. He probably doesn’t get the autograph if his nephew is a DeSean Jackson fan, for example. But, I think it also explains how Vick steps into the starting role in Philadelphia and instantly seems to have more gravitas than Donovan ever had.
Whether or not Vick will ever be respected or accepted by the fans makes no difference in the football sense, because his fellow players have already welcomed him back and they look at him differently than other players. Whether that is because as fellow athletes they recognize his unique talent, or if they identify with his situation, or if they simply grew up using the video game version of Vick, it doesn’t really matter. Vick may not be someone you’d like to identify as a leader, but in the NFL he seems to have fallen into that role naturally, and players are following him.