I have a lot of respect for how Coach Tony Dungy used the Super Bowl as a platform to publicly declare his faith and to bring glory to God. He signed this cover of a Christian men's magazine in-season, which is kind of surprising knowing how busy football coaches are.
Coach Dungy's favorite bible verse comes from Matthew 16:26 - "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"
The Tyler Rose was one of the most powerful runners of all-time who is revered as a hero in Texas. He signed this through his meat company.
Football was the second sport I started following as a kid (after baseball). The Steelers were one of my favorite teams then, mostly because they were in all the Super Bowls around that time. One of my first memories about the Steelers is seeing Lynn Swann on the lavel of a Hi-C can making one of his spectacular catches. I don't know what that has to do with Terry Bradshaw, except for the fact that he was the one making those throws.
Eugene Chung went about 6'6", 260 and was the first Korean-American to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. He wrote back a short note on the letter I sent along with the cards, but I wish he would have answered my question about whether or not he ever experienced any racism in the NFL.
I got these two 4" x 6" photos signed for free at this year's USC-UCLA football game at the Coliseum. The line was only about 10 minutes long, and they were giving out free photos and free signatures. It looked like they would sign other items for a small donation. Too bad I didn't know they would be there. I was proudly wearing my UCLA jersey while I got the signatures. I briefly spoke to Charles and asked him about his nephew Russell, who was another favorite player of mine while in high school.
Track and field is my favorite sport. I've been a fan of Danny Everett since he was at Fairfax high school in the mid-80s. He then went on to become one of the stars of the 1988 UCLA track team that won the NCAA championship. Probably my favorite all-time squad. Danny Everett, Henry Thomas, Mike Marsh, Kevin Young, etc. That group was the first collegiate team to go under 3:00 in the 4x400 relay. I saw them win the Pac-10 Championship at Drake Stadium. I sent the program from that meet to Danny for his signature. He signed it in two places, including the one shown here. He also sent me a long letter responding to my questions and comments. Since track and field isn't a big sport in the US, he probably doesn't receive a whole lot of autograph requests through the mail (mine was the first request logged on sportscollectors.net). Danny went on to win a gold and bronze medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He is now working at a local high school where I sent my request. This is my all-time favorite return through the mail. By the way, the happy face he added with his signature on the letter is the second happy face I've received (Rick Barry had one too).
Steve Cauthen appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated three times over a period of less than two years. Imagine a jockey appearing on the cover of SI today. These are two of his covers.
Another Notre Dame quarterback's autograph. Rick signed this through the Notre Dame Alumni Association.
The Ismail brothers have the coolest nicknames around- the Rocket, the Missile, and the Bomb. The Missile signed these two cards. What's interest are the markings at the top right hand corner of the cards. It kind of looks like Arabic writing at first, but looking closer, it almost looks like some weird code writing which looks like it says Missile. He did grow up in a Muslim family, so maybe it is Arabic writing. Who knows.
His favorite verses come from John 3:3-8 which say, "In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
The signature is hard to see, but this is one of my favorite returns. Joe Frazier charges $100 a pop at shows, and through the mail he charges $30 (he included a price sheet with the return). But he signed this for only $10. Joe's been on the cover of Sports Illustrated many times, so I tried to pick the best action shot cover to send him. Too bad the background is dark.
This one took 231 days to get returned. It was sent in care of his corporation. It came back with a letter stating that Gary Player only signs one item per person. Under his signature, he provided his own seal imprint. You can see it under his last name. Writing to him apparently places you on the mailing list of his Player magazine, because I ended up getting an issue of it later.
Roger charges $10 a signature. Got it back in 5 days. The inscription refers to his 1985 season, in which he was the first player to have over 1000 yards rushing and 1000 yards receiving in the same season.
This is the second request I made (and got back) from Herschel Walker . He remains one of the best through-the-mail signers, as evidenced by the three he signed here. He's been on the cover of SI many times, so I still have a couple more to send him. I just don't like to send more than 2 or 3 at a time.
The Indiana high school legend who Bobby Knight infamously said could start for his Indiana team as an eighth grader.
One of the great running backs in the USC lineage of great backs. Although I'm a UCLA fan, I respect USC and I will root for them except when they play UCLA. The Heisman winner signed through the USC Athletic Department.
Another member of the World Champion 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers team. They hold a special place in my heart as they were the first baseball team I ever followed. Davey signed this through the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
I used to watch the Houston teams destroy my SMU Mustangs in the early 90s. David is now in the ministry. His favorite bible verse is Isaiah 7:14 - "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
Coach Smith wasn't signing through the mail for a while, so this was a nice return. Especially cool looking that he used a silver Sharpie. Sent it in care of the UNC Athletic Department.
Hale Irwin has won the U.S. Open three times, and each time he's made the cover of SI. Kind of funny how each one has a different personalized message. It's also kind of funny to see that on each cover, Hale looks less and less geeky.