This FAQ has been created to answer some of the questions that you may have.
Before we get started, here is a rundown of the abbreviations and terms I frequently use:
IP- (In Person) This is an autograph that I have gotten meeting the player in public.
TTM- (Through The Mail) This is an autograph that I have acquired by means of mail.
BB- (Box Breaker) This is an autograph acquired through opening a box of cards.
Paid Signing- This is an event where I have spent money in order to acquire the player’s autograph.
Placeholder- A person who holds a place in line for other people at an event to get autographs.
Gatekeeper- A person who controls the pace of the event. Usually this person will be standing near the player, and may even hand them the things to be signed, and or move you along afterwards.
Handler- See Gatekeeper above.
RTS- (Return to Sender) A piece of mail that has been sent back to me for any reason at all that the addressee wanted.
CC- (Custom Card) A card that I have designed from scratch to send to the player for an autograph.
Ebayer This is primarily a derogatory term used to refer to people who get autographs for the sheer purpose of selling them. Also referred to as sellers.
Q: I am concerned that you have my address.
A: I must preface this by stating that I respect players’ privacy and do not disclose their address information publicly. I hate receiving updated privacy rules from banks and credit cards that are 5 pages long. Simply stated, I give my word that if you do not want your address given out to other fans, that I will comply with your wishes.
Q: I got a letter in the mail from you asking for an autograph. How did you find me?
A: There are a variety of tools that I have used to track down many former players. It is not my intention to alarm or scare you, however much personal data is available on the web connecting news articles, google, and football cards together. I also utilize Harvey Meiselman’s Football autograph list to speed things up.
Q: Why did you send me cards asking me for my autograph when you have so many?
A: I hope that is not a detriment to you signing my cards, rather it is an indication of my thorough patience at the hobby. You have been contacted by me because I have fond memories of your time in the NFL, WLAF, CFL, AFL, etc.
Q: What is to stop you from selling these on Ebay after I sign your card?
A: The fact that I am very proud of my collection. The fact that I don’t sell my autographs. The fact that you can always personalize the card to me with my name on it, thereby rendering it probably unsellable on any auction site. You have to place some trust in me that it will never be my intention to sell any of these. Selling my memories would be like losing them completely.
Q: I noticed that you a fan of a team that my team was an arch rival of. Why did you write me?
A: That’s a great observation, but I am a fan and historian. In the true spirit of sportsmanship, I respect and value even players that played for arch rivals.
Q: I sent you my cards back autographed but they haven’t showed up on your site yet.
A: I try to mix it up on the site as much as possible. Offense, defense, position, team card, league, etc. Sometimes it takes a bit to rotate back around to a particular franchise. It’s really the luck of the draw. If you’d like me to post up your autograph as soon as I get them, just let me know with the return autograph or contact me directly. It’s absolutely no problem. Otherwise unfortunately the mailman could be pilfering these cards from me. Sadly it does happen. Let me know if you did send it back though and it’s been a while. I’ll try again.
Q: How are you making any money off of this?
A: I don’t. This is my hobby and passion. I’ve thought about ads, but they just clutter up the screen. I don’t have any plans to change the current format. My friend is kind enough to pay for and give me all the space that I need for this site.
Q: Hey I think your site is great and one of my friends played in the league and would love to be on your site.
A: That’s cool. I’d love to get in contact with them. What is their name and address?
Q: I notice you’ve got all these football autographs. Would you like to buy some from me?
A: No I don’t do that.
Q: I don’t want to sign anything for you.
A: I am sorry you feel that way. Please just return the cards to me in the SASE. I won’t bother you again, and I won’t hold it against you.
Q: I charge a signing fee.
A: Really? Okay. I know a lot of players are hard up after their playing days or its a good way to discourage sellers. If you can inform me of your fee and it’s reasonable and return my cards, I’ll send them back with your fee. It’s no big deal and I’m sorry that I didn’t know of your pricing. I fully support Dave Pear and other alumni fighting for players rights and their deserved retirement funds.
Q: I noticed that you purchase some autographs or do paid signings.
A: Yes, from time to time when I am seeking a particular player’s autograph that is difficult to come by via the mail or in person, I will reach out to purchase that autograph or go through a company that specializes in it. Honestly I don’t trust situations where sellers tell me that they just happen to have what I need. I’d rather reach out first and determine if I should do it myself on those rare occasions.
Q:Your site is great! How did you come up with all this information?
A: Google is my friend. I typically grab from a few sources, my memories, and combine that with strange facts that only I would notice. Yes the site takes a bit of work to maintain, but as the internet gets bigger and bigger- setting up a site and getting hosting becomes easier and easier, especially when you have relatives who know how to set these things up. Outside of occasional help from them, I run the site completely by myself.
Q: I really don’t want you to publish any information on me when you put my card on your site.
A: Totally understandable. I’ll also not give out your address if somebody asks me about it. I do like to do a brief summary about you like a walk down memory lane, but will refrain from the ‘where are they now’ segment.
Q: Do you collect anything else other than football cards?
A: No, sorry. I do not collect celebrities or autographs from other sports.
Q: I really want to get the autograph of a player you have on your site. Can you give me their address?
A: It all really depends on how I acquired it. If it was TTM recently, I may have an address available, however if possible I prefer to exchange TTM address successes. Regardless just ask. I’m pretty nice about it unless you want a bunch of names. Follow me on twitter @mindfinger.
Q: Wow you have a lot of football autographs. How many do you have?
A: I will be somewhere near 2100 autographs on cards by the end of 2015, with an additional 120 or so on memorabilia, and a 2009 NFL team football completely autographed.
Q: How do you store your autographs?
A: I am old school. I use UltraPro binder albums and BCW PVC acetate 9 card pages for the most part.
Q: You sent me like 6 cards you jerk. I have a signing limit of 2.
A: That’s great! Thanks for signing the 2. I am sorry to send so many. Occasionally I do break the golden rule of limiting my requests, but in some cases players have awesome looking cards that I’d love to get autographed, there is a set that I would like to collect in particular, or you are a part of the WLAF.
Q: You sent me a typed letter. Do you send the same letter to all the players you ask for autographs from?
A: No. In general there are some similarities letter to letter. I think it’s important for me to emphasize that I talk about why I decided to send my cards to you and that it’s the memories that matter. Otherwise I do try to ask a question or talk about what contribution you made to the league that you played in that made an impact on my life.
Q: If I send you back my cards unsigned, do you put me up on your site?
A: No- and I won’t criticize you or publish any information on you. It’s a give and take. If you want your information up here but don’t want to sign, I don’t see the harm in signing one card.
Q: Hey Lee I really like this card you sent me. I have never seen it before. Can you send me a copy of it?
A: Absolutely! I think it’s great when players collect their own cards and I am fortunate enough to have one you don’t. I don’t have a local card store that has the obscure cards that I am after so typically I do a lot footwork on Ebay and on Beckett.com- which usually has everything I need. If you sign the card(s) included, return them in the SASE and include a note indicating that you’d like additional cards, I’ll pack a few up and send them out as soon as I have a few.
Q: I live internationally now in XX. Can you ship those cards to me there and I’ll sign them?
A: Usually there’s an additional charge- 10-20 bucks- but I am so insane about this hobby that I can do that. It is a bigger risk for me financially- but it feels like a bigger reward when we exchange notes and or cards. It may take me a while however, as I have to wrangle a postman down and work out international fees.
Q: I got a facebook or mail message from you asking for an autograph and pointing me to this website. Is this legit?
A: Yes. With the advent of technologies such as the web it allows fans to track down players on social media networks easily (especially if they have unique names). The website is a way that I can ‘give back’ after you give me your autograph. I think it is a great way of taking this hobby into the internet age.
Q: As a fan, could you please enlighten me to how exactly you have found many of these players. Some of them are not found in any books and are off the beaten path?
A: I did start this as an exercise in the search engine Google with the advanced search features on. Filtering down dates can help me get a better handle on how old the information is that has been posted on this player. I love cards because I can flip them over and they give me an abundance of information on the player that I can also add into the search. Some people when looking for names will try to track down the name of the player’s wife- as typically that is public information, and then go from there. Typically you will stumble upon quite a few sites, such as this one, that will encourage reading comprehension. Knowing as much public information about the player as possible will help you narrow down the search and locate them. -Bookmark them. The hints to the answers are there if you just follow the carrot, and sometimes, you do have to make a leap of faith. You will get RTS when you are experimenting on locating players. You can also locate players through social networking sites and send them a private message. I also recommend sportscollectors.net and a message board like fanmail.biz. They are very good tools for your needs and give you regular feed for free of current players who are signing.
Q: With so many autographs, why don’t you just upload them all at once?
A: I prefer to utilize the player a day method because it keeps people coming back. If I just put them all up at once there may be a dead period where I don’t receive an autograph for weeks at a time, and that may cause people not to return to the site if they don’t see an update every other day.
Q: I am a collector too, but I do this on a budget. Why don’t you have the addresses on here?
A: That’s a good question. I’ve thought about putting the addresses up here at some point, but I also get annoyed with professionals who log jam players with requests from addresses they’ve found that they then turn around and sell. Almost as irritating are those that would get the address and then add it to their address list and then charge you $35.00 for their list claiming that they did all the work and research- when all they did was pilfer it off someone else’s site. I am found on fanmail.biz by the handle of leebo and check the NFL TTM Thread on a near daily basis. You can also contact me there.
Q: You posted some negative/ out of date/ incorrect information about me. How do I get that changed?
A: Oh man, I am so sorry. You can contact me through my email listed above and I can make the proper alterations. In most cases I attempt to edit out certain elements of players’ lives such minor police blotter reports. I go to great lengths to honor most players’ contributions to the sport, and that includes to a certain degree sanitizing it so that it doesn’t appear as relevant to a player’s life. There are situations where I have had a ‘run-in’ with a player over the years and in some of these cases I may be hesitant to change that view of events since it was a one on one meeting, (like when Al Davis mooned me). Other things such as “current whereabouts are unknown” can be easily fixed and updated. Remember I am a one man operation here.
Q: I really want xx card that is in your collection. Can you sell or trade it to me?
A: Sorry, no.
Q: What is your selection method for determining what player you will be sending out to each month?
A: Well I certainly prioritize WLAF players that I have multiple cards of to the front of the line. If I’ve got an address I’ll take a stab. Otherwise, it just sort of falls into place. I just get an ‘urge’ based on a memory. There are a few sets that I’m working on that figure into it too, as I loved the Action Packed Rookies sets from the early 1990s.
Q: I have a football blog too and would like to exchange links with you. Can we do that?
A: Yes, within certain guidelines. You wouldn’t want to send your friend to a bad part of town after visiting your house would you? Same goes for the web. If your website is polluted with advertisements and pop-ups, generally doesn’t follow a rule the normal rule of thumb on etiquette or goes off on an offensive tangent- my site is not to be linked to yours. I do ask that you contact me, and that you also have an accessible link from your site to mine as well. Keep in mind, I do read the blogs I am linked to, so I will delete your site if it is inactive for an extended period of time (1 year) or becomes a source of viral infection. Basically what you put up on your site reflects upon me, – and I’m not interested in collecting celebrities.
Q: Can you design a card for me?
A: Chances are if you are a former player and have a photo or image that you’d like for me to put in a card – yes I can do that and have in the past. Many of my clients include members of the University of Texas, Arena Football League, National Football League, and United Football League, and so on.
Q: I noticed your collection of UFL football cards that you designed. Are you planning on publishing or selling them?
A: I’d love to. The problem is I am a fan, and these photos, logos, and the player permissions are not mine. I am unable to market them for profit in any fashion. I made them for a few reasons- 1) As a love letter to the league and the players who play the sport. 2) To showcase my ability as a designer and hopefully get noticed by a trading card company looking for up and coming talent. 3) To get many of them autographed, thus preserving the legacy of the UFL, that is on permanent hiatus. 4) To encourage other fans to do the same.
Q: Do you update your old posts?
A: As a matter of fact I do try to. Now I emphasize try. Frequently on the date that I publish the article, I will go back and make simple corrections and such. Otherwise if there is a major incident that occurs later on, or the player passes away, I do update their entry to reflect this as well. If I send off for an autograph and get it back after I publish their main article, I put up a supplemental article with a (2) next to it.
Q: I only sign in xx color sharpie/pen.
A: Absolutely understandable, but confusing. I have no problem if a player chooses to sign in a particular sharpie color or refuses to sign anything that people want signed in another.
Q: Don’t you know that getting cards autographed actually decreases the value of the card?
A: Yes, I know. Do I particularly care? No. I’m really not a photo memorabilia kind of guy- although I will partake in it when I can. I got started as a card collector and the autographs are easy to obtain and store.
Q: Do you send out valuable cards to get signed?
A: I practice the mantra of if I think it is too valuable to send out or if it can’t readily be replaced by the same card- I won’t. Now that doesn’t exactly answer the question, and to that, yes I have sent out valuable cards to players to get signed in the past, (although most of the market time that I collected and send cards from was deflated) and there have been occasions where I have not received anything back.
Q: How do you get your autographs to stick to your cards?
A: More and more manufacturers are engaging in the dumb practice of high gloss cards. It makes it more difficult for the autographs to be absorbed into them. Fear not however, for my friends at “Card Traders of Austin” gave me a great tip a few months ago, that works wonders. Grab the card and rub baby/talcum powder all over the card in a circular fashion. Let it sit for a bit, and then rub all of it back off. This should remove enough of the viscosity from the surface of the card, for it to absorb the ink. This should not ruin your card, and there will be no discernible removal of the gloss off that card.
Q:You must be like over 21 based on your letter. This is a kids hobby. Why are you still doing this?
A: I don’t know. I collected from 1990-1995 quitting abruptly. I never got rid of the cards, but never realized the magnitude of historical context I had amassed. Collecting came naturally to me, so these sort of hobbies get left by the wayside when you discover girls and move on with your life. It’s only when you dust off the memories years later that you get a charge out of it and then think,- “Hey I can do this again. That was fun. What’s to stop me.” A fan, is a fan, whatever the age. I hope that you don’t take issue with that and realize that it’s those memories that take me back to when I was 13 or 15.
Q: This site is great. Why do you do this?
A: There are quite a few reasons behind it. First: I want to honor the player’s contribution to the game and interactions with the fans. I joined the hobby in my early teens. In this day and age- even they are getting squeezed out in favor of children. The emerging impression is that only children can enjoy autograph collecting, and that adults and young adults are too old to collect, sell the autographs and crush children at autograph signings. If that perception existed in the early 90’s as it does today- I would never have been able to acquire the volume of signatures that I have today. Second: Many players are completely forgotten after they retire. This is my way of remembering them. You are not forgotten. Third: The NFL has gone to great lengths in conjunction with the media to erase the Oilers, (and other defunct team franchises and names) and the WLAF/NFLE. There is just not a lot of information on them anymore or it is constantly being rewritten. I think that covers most of it.