Friday, March 30, 2007


A Diamond among Trash

For the past two days, my wife and I were cleaning out our basement.

My wife pulls a little book out of a box and asks me if I want to keep it. The front of the book says "Autographs". I say, "YES!"

I immediately paged through the book. The names leapt out at me: Ron Jaworski...Hal Carmichael...Randy Logan...John Bunting...Wally Henry...Vince Papale...

Back in the late 70's, my mother took me and a friend up to the Philadelphia Eagles training camp in West Chester, PA. I bought that little autograph book to take with me.

The one autograph I remember the most was Harold Carmichael (he signed his name "Hal Carmichael"). When you are a kid standing right next to him, he was HUGE! It felt like the back of my head had to touch my spine to see his face. But he was a complete gentleman, just like the rest of the Eagles.

The whole experience was one that has stuck with me even to this day. Those Eagles were larger than life figures to me, even now. Those men immortalized themselves in my memory, by doing nothing more than taking a few seconds of their time to sign their name in a book for a kid. God bless them.

When I think of all the great teams of the 70's and 80's, the Eagles stand out for me. Not because they were great on the field, but because they were great OFF the field too. If they had any sins as individuals, those were erased in my mind when they took the time to sign my little book.

When I hear about athletes who won't sign autographs for kids, I think of what a disservice they do to their own legacy. What you do as an athlete on the field may put you in the record books, the Hall of Fame, on television, in commercials, and secure your financial future. But the few seconds it takes to sign a piece of paper for a child is a bond that goes beyond all the fame and accolades. It places you on a pantheon above all other athletes in the mind of that child, for the entire lifetime of that child.

And you want an extra $20 for that?

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