Another Day With The Attendees of the 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere


Today was the second time I had a chance to interact with the attendees of the 2010 Rookie Premiere, and though it wasnt as epic as Friday night, today was still a very fun time. I arrived at Santa Monica High School around 11:45 and made my way over to the event. Panini was set up there with a booth next to the merch tent from NFLPA, as well as a DJ from 102.7 KIIS FM. The music from the field was already blaring, so I couldnt really see the point of an extra place for music, but whatever. They also had Coffee Bean stuff there for sale, but they looked bored without anyone coming to buy.
Panini handed out packs of 2009 Prestige, which came in very handy in the later parts of the event. They were also handing out mammoth posters that featured all the rookie cards from 2010 Prestige, though I was kind of disappointed they didnt have current packs to open for the rookies at the event.
There were a ton of fans lining the entry way looking to get autographs, and as the event participants rolled in, they signed for just about everyone. The people I recognized immediately were Brandon Routh, who played Superman in the latest film, Bill Bellamy of MTV fame, and one of the Sklar brothers who had a show on ESPN Classic as well as some well known stand up comedy stuff.
I walked around a little before making my way up to Media/VIP check in, but there really wasnt much happening on the actual grounds of the event until things got going. NFLPA had set up huge video screens and decorated everything to the nines, so that was cool too. As I walked into the tent where all the event personnel were hanging out, I could see that once again, the NFLPA didnt mistreat its people.
Just like on Friday, the spread was impressive, this time featuring sandwiches from a great local deli, sweets from a local restaurant, salads and steak sandwiches from Morton’s steakhouse, among other stuff. No one was really there when the event started, so I grabbed some food and waited to see if any of the card people were going to come. Much to my dismay, none of them were able to make it to the event, except for a few people I had met on Friday night from Upper Deck. I later found out that some of them had some very unfortunate circumstances at the hotel involving cars and towing. It was really too bad they couldnt be there.
A few of the rookies that were still in town showed up around 12:30 in a big group, and I used the opportunity to fill out my collection of autographs from the guys I didnt have. The first person I talked to was Eric Decker, a Broncos wide receiver who walked in wearing his new jersey. He was an alum of the University of Minnesota, and a VERY nice guy, so we chatted about our common heritage and Minnesota connection. He was happy to sign a card for me, which was great, considering how few people were actually there.
CJ Spiller walked in next, with Dexter McCluster, Damian Williams, and Demaryius Thomas in tow. Ben Tate, Golden Tate, and Toby Gerhart walked in next, followed by Mardy Gilyard and Arrelious Benn. I didnt have either of the Tates, and both were happy to sign for me. Everyone who was there started taking pictures with them, and reporters from the school newspaper interviewed a few of them. That would have been an awesome experience to have as a high schooler, thats for sure.
I noticed Eric Dickerson sitting at a table waiting for his game to start, so I walked over and chatted to him about life after football. He lives very close to me in the valley here in LA, and was a very nice guy all around. I didnt realize how cool his signature looked until he was finished signing, and it was one that I was glad to have.
TJ Houshmanzadeh was also there, and here is where it was handy to have a never ending supply of Panini cards for him to sign. Everyone there had his 2009 Prestige card and he signed about 4 of them before I got a chance. He was also a class act, but laughed when his card featured him as a Bengal.
I had CJ Spiller sign a football I brought with me, and he was much more friendly about it than on Friday night. he gave me a full sig with a personalization, and I could not be happier about it. Maurice Jones Drew was also milling about, but he was extremely busy filming stuff for the NFL network. Lucky I got him previously, because I didnt see an opportunity this time around.
Because I was wearing my Vikings shirt, Toby Gerhart came up and said “Go Vikes!” before getting in line to get some lunch. I got in line behind him, and asked him how yesterday went. He said he had a blast, and it was really cool to see all his cards that were being made. He loved the first opportunity to get dressed in full garb, and said he was glad he got to attend. He was wearing a Topps hat, something I didnt expect.
All in all, this weekend was a tremendous experience, and I am glad I got to be a part of it before I left Los Angeles for good. This rookie class, with few exceptions, were a bunch of amazing guys, and I hope that somewhere in the ranks there is a few NFL Superstars in the making. Because of my interactions with them, I have acquired a few new targets for next year, and thankfully there are going to be some awesome cards. Upper Deck, Panini, and Topps did a great job putting this event together, as always, and hopefully in the future I can make it back for another one.

My Night At The 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

Just from living here in Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity to do things that I never would have thought possible. In 2008 I was able to attend the red carpet premiere of Guitar Hero III, where Poison played a spectacular show for less than 500 people. There were celebrities, there was great food, open bar, the works. That was nothing compared to what I got to do last night.

Because of some inside information, I knew where the players were going to be and when they were going to be there. Being the autograph hound I am, I decided it was worth an effort to try to get signatures from as many of the rookies as I could. As there is every year, there is a huge party in Santa Monica the night before the main event, so I made it a point to be at the venue as the players arrived. Boy am I glad I decided to go.
I arrived around 6:45 and sat down in the lobby with a stack of cards freshly pulled from packs of Prestige and notecards for the players I couldnt get. I had a football as well, but I was going to save it for the right moment. Around 7:00 players started walking in, no entourage, no anything. I walked up to Ndamukong Suh, who was probably one of the biggest beasts I had ever seen and asked if he could sign one of my cards. He was extremely nice, and happily obliged. As soon as people saw that the players were there, three others started to walk over. He signed for all of them without blinking an eye and even chatted with us for a few moments.
Ryan Mathews was next, and like Suh, he was incredibly nice. He posed for pictures, he signed whatever we wanted and hung around for a few minutes. As a Chargers player, he had to sign for just about everyone, but he was cordial and never made any notice of being swarmed.
Dexter McCluster stopped by as well, but didnt say much. Oddly enough, he hung around the lobby the most of any of the players before everything started.
After Mathews left, Eric Berry walked in, but was more hesitant to sign for us. After he got a few requests from kids there, he ended up signing for everyone, taking pictures and so on.
Jimmy Clausen showed up while Berry was signing, and I broke away immediately to go and get him. Clausen was a BIG guy, surprisingly, and signed the first of my cards that I had brought with me. He was somewhat cold at first, but didnt have a problem playing the role once he realized that we were all there.
Demaryius Thomas showed up around the same time as Clausen, so I had him sign the card I had for him as well. He was VERY shy and just passed through on his way to the elevator.
After Thomas left, it was about 7:20, and we hit a lull. We waited for more people, but no one showed until around 7:30. Thats when things got nuts. First Maurice Jones Drew, who was there for the NFL network walked in, and no one even noticed him. Once we got a clue, who he was, he nicely signed for the two of us who walked up to him. Then CJ Spiller walked in the door, and you could tell that everyone wanted his picture and autograph. He signed a card for me, though he didnt say much to anyone. That was two big names off my list. Then the boom fell.
Tim Tebow walked in, and he was pretty much on a mission. He saw that all his player friends were signing, did a complete 180 and headed straight the other way for the elevator. I was standing right there and asked him for his autograph to give away on the site. He shrugged me off with a “not now” as a woman walked up for a picture. She shoved the camera in my hands and asked for a shot, which I took. At that point, a bald guy walked up and confronted the five or six of us that were there. He wasnt with the hotel, but told us to leave because we were “harassing” the guests. Jumping on his cell phone, he said “im going to get hotel management over here” and pointed to the door. At this point, I was more interested in avoiding confrontation because I had just received news that I was going to be able to attend the actual party that night.
Shaking with excitement over the news of my party pass, I walked outside and waited for it to arrive. In the meantime, I saw a bunch of familiar faces milling about, including Tracy Hackler, but ill get to that later.
After my pass arrived, I chilled for a while to see if anyone else was going to show up. At around 7:45, I met up with Chris Carlin and Terry Melia of Upper Deck for a pre-arranged meeting and we walked into the party. It was like a mecca of complete ridiculous-ness and awesome-ness. I couldnt believe that I was going to be able to experience it, and was glad that I brought a huge stack of notecards. There was food, there was drink, there was everything, and it was pimped out with EA sports stuff and NFL players EVERYWHERE.
Considering I had never met Chris or Terry face to face before, I spent time with them talking about life and the upcoming year. Both of them were incredibly friendly, and were just happy to be in such a cool place, just like I was. For guys who spend their days around this sort of stuff, they seemed like fans too, it was kind of refreshing in a way. Chris promised me that this year, Upper Deck’s stuff would be incredible for football, despite the fact that their NFL license was gone. He knew it would be tough to carve out a new niche, but he felt confident that the design team would continue to make Upper Deck’s products look better than any others out there.
After we were done chatting, I started to walk around. The spread they had set up was crazy beyond belief. The party spanned the entire pool area, bordering the beach and the ocean, something that added a bunch of allure to the status of the event itself. They had a station where they made their own Chili, a station with a Mini Donut making company who did fresh donuts, a table filled with candy and caramel apples, a sliders station (chicken, pulled pork, burgers, and other stuff), a mashed potatoes station, and of course, an open bar. It was the first time I wished I hadnt had my surgery, but I was okay settling on the smell of the food rather than eating it.
In the midst of walking around, I got Sam Bradford to sign another card for me, Clausen to sign my football, Arrelious Benn to
sign a card, and a few others. I still hadnt seen Toby Gerhart, which was sad, so I decided to schmooze a little more. I was introduced to a few distributors and others who were there, all of which were pretty shocked to see me. I saw Tracy Hackler again, and introduced myself, we chatted for 30 seconds and I walked away. Nothing bad, just wanted to actually meet him.
After my Beckett encounter, I started to chat with the Marketing director for Upper Deck, who may have been one of the nicest people at the party. She was so happy and excited about the weekend, and I saw exactly why she had her job. She treated me more like a friend than a blogger, which I very much appreciated, and I hope I get copies of the pictures she took of all of us (hint hint).
I was in line to get some water when Scott Prusha of Panini walked right up to me and got in my face. Decked out in Adrenalyn garb for their new product he laid into me for past posts on SCU. For a smaller gentleman, he can be quite intimidating, thats for sure. I held my ground, hoping he wouldnt go too far into our history, but he wanted to make some points, and I was more than willing to hear what he had to say. We talked for about 20 minutes, and he actually had some pretty invaluable advice that I will definitely be using in the future for this site. After he warmed up a little, he wanted me to know that he really wasnt concerned with the business side of my blog, but more the history of my actions. He understood that my opinion on Panini products was just that, and didnt really care about what I said. He told me he really didnt read the site anymore, which was fine, but he was happy that the baby was doing well. Scott and I broke our conversation on good terms, but its not like we are going out for a drink any time soon.
At this point, it was about 8:30, and I was nearing the end of my rope with being away from the baby. I still hadnt found Toby Gerhart in the sea of 250 people, but I was determined. I spotted him at a corner table sitting with Colt McCoy, and approached him immediately. I told him I was from Minneapolis and asked him how things were going. He was genuinely a class act and started laughing about the picture from his Prestige card. They passed it around and he signed it for me. Colt McCoy signed another card for me, and I had determined my night was complete.
I saw Tim Tebow again, waiting in line for something, and tried approaching him more in a different situation than before. Again he told me he wouldnt sign and shrugged me off again. Others were coming up to him as well, to which they got the same answer. From what I was told, Tebow didnt sign a single autograph all night long.
Before I left, I had a great chat with a person from the Washington Post about writing and the way each person builds their brand. Chris had told him all about the site, and he thought it was pretty cool that I would be so passionate about writing about this stuff. Being on the business side of the paper, he completely understood the building of a “character” in your writing, and wished me the best of luck with the blog. Going to school in Washington DC meant that we had lots to talk about, hopefully Ill have another shot at talking to him in the future.
I think the most surprising thing about the night, other than the accessibility of the players, was how well the card companies got along. Even though they are in a brutally competitive industry, and really would benefit from each other’s destruction, they are all on good terms with each other. The goal of the night, and the weekend really, was to promote the cards and the players, something that definitely resonated with me. I know that I can get caught up in the soft underbelly of what goes on around the hobby, but this night was a completely positive experience thanks to the professionalism of the people from Upper Deck and Panini. Congrats on that to all of them, I want them to know that.
All in all, this night was epic to say the least, something I will never forget. A huge thank you to Chris and Upper Deck, Scott and Panini, and Clay from Topps for putting on a great event with EA Sports. It was truly the best way to leave Los Angeles behind, I had the time of my life.

My State of the Union: Happy Second Birthday SCU!

Today is the day that SCU was born, two years ago. In fact, I cannot believe its been two years already. Feels like yesterday I was just another angry collector. Although the blog is two years old now, reaching over 20,000 visitors per month, and is responsible for people recognizing me at card shows, its still fun to do each and every day. I cant think of a reason why I would have kept going if it hadnt been fun this whole time. I have obviously had my ups and downs, built and burned bridges, and even inspired a few hate blogs in retaliation, but that is never an occurance I would have fathomed possible in the beginning of this site. SCU has outgrown even my own dreams for this once tiny blog.

When I started SCU, I was looking for a place to write, mainly because of my background in English from my undergrad at George Washington U. I loved creative writing, and I knew that I wanted some place to express it. Unlike most creative writers, I needed to write solely about something I love, and cards became that subject after a few tries at other things. Its rare that one can find something that provides as much material as this hobby has, and I am glad to say that material is not drying up either.

I think its also rare to find a community of people like we have here in the card blogger network, something that is one of the best things about the hobby. When I started you could pretty much count the blogs on two hands, instead of now, where hundreds of people have signed up to write about what they collect. I didn’t even know about sites like Stale Gum or Wax Heaven at the beginning of my tenure here, but I soon came to understand what it meant to have to work to get to the top. Chris and Mario were two of the first people to welcome me to the net, even going above and beyond to help educate me in some cases. It was easy to see how much work they put into their sites, and it was where I discovered how to turn SCU into where it is today. Although the community is much, much bigger now, I consistently see others working together to spread the word, supporting their bretheren and sisteren(?) regardless of whether or not they agree. A blogger is a blogger, no matter the site, and almost all of us understand that speaking out is worth supporting, no matter the discussion topics.

The community itself has led to a number of events that wouldn’t be possible without a wonderful community. Whether it’s the wildly successful group breaks on here and other sites, the blog bat around (which will be making a comeback shortly), or even just the twitter discussions we all seem to have daily, we have created a media source unlike any other. No editors or people to answer to, no alterior motives, no bullshit, we do it because we love it, and that’s what makes it great.

On top of all of that, blogs have often become the defacto police force of the internet, a role I take very seriously here. Fakes and scams have always been a huge target for me, even before SCU, as my crusader nature has always lent well to rooting out the douchebags who make the hobby a terrible place. I will voice a commitment to continue that as long as this site is up, as I don’t think I will ever be able to let someone take advantage of an uninformed collector without saying something first. Not only that, but I hope others will do the same thing, as our voices collectively is much more powerful.

Now that two years have past, its tough not to look towards the future, which is becoming more and more uncertain with the drastic changes coming in my life. Although Im not sure how active I will be able to stay, I know that all the people who live to hate me arent going to win any time soon. You have already seen guest posts from Voluntarheel, and he will not be the only one taking up the SCU flag in the future. One of the great things about having a site like this is it becomes easier to connect with likeminded people, thus giving me a good bullpen to work with when I cant meet the demands of the site. Thank you in advance to those people.

Speaking of haters, I have oddly developed a following of fans whose sole purpose is to express how awful of a person I am. Whether its claiming that I am laughably paid by Upper Deck, or any number of other things they like to harp on, I cant help but laugh (and ignore) their constant prodding. Much to their chagrin, it is one of the reasons that SCU has survived as long as it has, and most likely will be a reason why it will continue to thrive. There is no such thing as bad publicity, and I take the good with the bad in terms of people. It also helps that the letters from new collectors I get daily always contradict everything they say, as I have always prided myself at being a resource for uniformed people looking for info.

Lastly, thank you to the fans of SCU, the people who make this site a daily stop on their trek through the web. I live for you guys and gals, and you drive me towards success more than anything or anyone else. Nothing makes me happier than helping someone find an answer, start a blog, or even just talk about the hobby in their own way, and I think the favor is returned every day in many numbers of awesome ways. Then to see their support help get SCU onto ESPN, Deadspin, and Yardbarker’s front page, makes me even more thankful for the copious amounts of support they give.

Lets face it, I may not be the easiest person to agree with, read about, or cheer for, but I appreciate the ability to be a part of your favorite pasttime. Thank you all, and here’s to another two years!

Jared Allen At The Sun Times Show: Results Are Just As Awesome

Along with Percy Harvin, I also commissioned someone to get me Jared Allen, who was also signing at the show. Eric did a great job with helping me out, and I now have a second piece to add to my collection that I absolutely love. Although the price turned out to be a little more expensive than I had originally hoped, I still think it was well worth the money.

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Thanks again to Eric!

Percy Harvin At The Sun Times Show: Results Are AWESOME

First off, I want to thank James for doing this for me. He was nice, communicative, and incredibly easy to work with. You have made me very happy.

Secondly, I discussed a few days ago how much I loved autographs, and this one is definitely a new centerpiece to my Percy Harvin collection. From the pics it looks absolutely amazing, and very much worth the money I spent to have it taken care of.

I cant wait to have it in hand, should be perfect next to my Peterson one.
What a rush!