(Few things make me more irate than general scumbaggery, so I hope you’ll pardon an out-of-the-ordinary screed from me.)
I spent a glorious Saturday at theVince Lombardi Golf Classic, an event that over the past 39 years has been used to raise money for cancer research. It’s a great chance for the general public to rally for a good cause and meet some local celebrities and former Green Bay Packer players.
The rules are pretty simple: You can go wherever you want on the course, talk to anyone you’d like and ask for autographs. However, they ask that you buy the program, which costs $5 and goes toward the cause, and they say it’s up to the celebrities what they’ll sign or if they’ll sign. They ask you not to truck in memorabilia, but they’re pretty lax about that aspect of it if you’re just trying to stock your rec room. What they don’t want is people selling the stuff, which leads me to my general anger about the event.
The big name in the event is alwaysBart Starr. He was a 17th-round draft pick of the Packers back in 1956 and he blossomed under Lombardi to become a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. He was the MVP of both of the first two Super Bowls and although he spent nine unremarkable seasons as the coach of the Packers, he remains a legend in Wisconsin.
In 1965, Starr and his wife, Cherry, affiliated themselves with theRawhide Boys Ranch, a program that gives troubled and at-risk teenage boys work and academic experience. According to Rawhide’s Web site, Starr offered to raffle off the Corvette he received as the MVP of the second Super Bowl to complete the down payment for the program’s property. The Starrs also established an endowment for the group in the memory of their son Bret, who died prematurely. The money from the fund goes to help young men who have completed the program and need assistance getting started in their new life. The profits from Starr’s autograph sessions are often used to help build the fund.
In 1970, after Lombardi died of cancer, plans were in the works for the creation of a celebrity golf tournament to raise funds for cancer research. The Starrs agreed to serve as honorary chairpersons for the event and have maintained their roles every year since. They have been amazingly decent about this and have done all they can to keep this rolling as a fantastic event.
The problem is the scumbags who see the event as an opportunity to profit off of Starr.
Yes, I’m talking about you, the asshole with the hand tattoo, who wouldn’t know Bart Starr fromMaurice Starr, Ringo StarrorBrenda K. Starr, but still followed him from hole to hole getting as many autographs as you could.
Yes, I’m talking about you, the jerk-off who cut in front of a kid in a Packer jersey who looked all of about 12 years old for what you later admitted was your EIGHTH autograph of the day.
Yes, I’m talking about you, the douche bag who was behind me in line at the 17th hole talking to your friend about getting your jersey signed, noting that “I don’t want him to fucking personalize it!”
Yes, I’m talking about you, the pseudo-dad who either went through the same experience asKate Gosselin or who co-opted all of your neighbors’ kids, lining them up so you could get more shit signed.
Yes, I’m talking about you two pricks who were sitting near the clubhouse exchanging tips on how to remove the personalization Starr put on your mini-helmet without damaging the signature or the helmet.
Starr is 75 years old. He’s had major back surgery in the past couple years after getting injured in a car wreck. He is surrounded at this event by four handlers who have to deal with these base-level dickheads 18 times over 18 holes. He has a good heart and is involved in charities throughout the state, but very little of that matters to the scummy weasels who see him as a paycheck.
A quick glance at eBay shows that a signed Starr photo goes from anywhere from $80 to $200. A mini-helmet commands $200 to $400. A football goes for almost $600. The list goes on and on. Of course, Starr doesn’t want to turn his name into a cottage industry for these guys, so he personalizes stuff or refuses to sign stuff. Unfortunately, that’s only feeding the desire for his signature.
If Starr really wanted to kill off the market for this kind of thing, he’d take the approach that Bob Feller has. The former Cleveland Indians great appears bound and determined to make sure that every man, woman and child has a copy of his autograph, whether they want it or not. Feller signs thousands of autographs each year for free. I remember getting one for free and buying another for about $3 one year. On eBay, baseballs bearing his signature are drawing less than what you would expect to pay for the ball itself. Instead, Starr signs few signatures that don’t include a personal inscription and he signs a more limited number of items, thus leading to the merry band of assholes who follow him around trying to make a buck.
Dad has been going to the Lombardi for years and has often regaled me with tales of meeting Starr and a lot of the other former Packers. This was my first year there and it was everything I could have hoped for. The only downside was the bloodsuckers out there stalking Starr. Still, I was grateful to meet him and shake his hand. I took my signature and was thrilled that he personalized it to me. Anyone can buy an autograph if they have the money, but to meet the man who pulled the Packers through the Ice Bowl, led them to Super Bowl victories and helped solidify Green Bay as “Titletown,” just gave me the greatest kick I could have asked for.
So to say thanks to Starr and his family, I sent a signature to the Rawhide Boys Ranch that’s pretty worthless on eBay, but good for a small chunk of change at the bottom of a check.