An open post to Jake, Steve, DeShaun, and John K.

We watch you every time you play on TV.  Once a year I am able to scrape together enough money to take my Jesse down to Charlotte to watch you play in person.  He lives for that.

One of the few who stayed in his seat until the last second to watch you beat New Orleans today, he pleaded with me to take the time and see if he could meet some of you, his heroes, as you left the stadium.  I reluctantly agreed, but he didn’t understand my reluctance.  Now he does.

Being the never-met-a-stranger kind of guy, he schmoozed the security guys enough so that he had a prime place among the 30 or so fans who were excitedly waiting with him.  He was standing where it would be difficult to miss him… but miss him you did… almost with a vengence.

Your aloofness was palpable as you either walked, or were driven via golf cart, to your personal parking lot so you could make your way home after a hard fought game.  Surely you know that only a true fan would wait on you for an hour and a half after the game ended in order to get your autograph or a simple ‘high-five’.

He was standing right there as you hurried by, not that you could be bothered by such adoration.  All it would have taken was a few minutes of your valuable time to stop… grab the pen he had at the ready… and scribble your name on his coveted seat cushion.  But you passed by him like he was just another unwanted weed growing in the lawn.

As we left, your greatest fan… my twelve-year-old son… said, “I don’t like those guys like I used to.” 

That’s what your arrogance and self-importance has wrought, fellas.  Are you happy now?

Who, exactly, do you think you are, and, more importantly, who do you think Jesse is?

Just as I thought… a bother.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted October 1, 2006 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Not that I’m making excuses for these guys, but after games is probably the worst time to try to get up with them.

    I visited a baseball game in Baltimore once and because I was press (not working at the time, though) I had good access and left the locker room after the game along with some of the athletes. I was a little more buff then and a kid asked me for an autograph. I told him I wasn’t a player and his dad yelled at me, saying something to the effect of this.

    I’ve seen these guys after games, a good friend of mine played ball at Chapel Hill and I covered the Patriots for a couple of years, and they’re beat to heck after dodging 300+ pound men.

    Now, if you catch them during preseason camp, by most accounts (including mine) the atmosphere and their demeanor is much better.

    Some, I wouldn’t smack a bear in the butt with. But after a game where you’re body is beaten for a couple of hours, well, I’d cut them just a smidgeon of slack. And try again.

  2. Posted October 2, 2006 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Understood, Herb… but it still broke my heart.

  3. Posted October 2, 2006 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Dave and Herb…I come down somewhere in the middle. It’s understandable that after a game might not be prime, but you would think that an organization as concerned with public image as the Panthers would have a few designated autograph granters (I know, probably not the main guys) available after the games.
    Zach and I have gone to the Caravan stops they’ve done is W-S two outta the last three years. At those events the players truly seem to enjoy hanging with the kids. Two years ago he met Deshaun and Smitty and got autographs and pictures. This year was a bit more skewed towards backups, but Zach did get to hang a little with return specialiist Jamall Robertson, who is now on the practice squad.
    I still feel bad for Jesse. Tell him to hang in there.

  4. Posted October 2, 2006 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I understand David, I truly do. There are few ballplayers that no matter how zonked will do their best to support their fans. But it is a business, more so now than in years past. Being in a position to see that day in and day out is enlightening.

    It’s different in college, where the players — even to some extent at the elite sports schools — are more accessible. Amazing how that changes with just a few short years (and a few million dollars).

    It’s why one of the most fun times for me was covering Coast Guard football (Div. III minus).

    Doug, I think you’re right. Non-day-game activities bring out their best because they’re focused on the fans and not swollen joints and muscles.

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