Please don't give me a sign

Column by Craig Marshall Smith


Autographs are dumb. What's the point? What do you do with them?

I don't want Abraham Lincoln's autograph or John Lennon's autograph. What would I do with them? Look at them? I really doubt it. Or sell them?

I especially don't want Johnny Manziel's autograph, but I will get to that.

I have seen athletes and others autograph everything under the sun, and they can do it without looking.

I think it is humiliating to stand in a queue to get an autograph. I am OK with book signings, but otherwise if you thrust a scrap of paper in front of Pink you are a fool, or at least foolish.

I have a couple of signed letters in my home, one from Katharine Hepburn, and the other one from Charles Schulz, although I don't know where the Schulz letter is. Somewhere in the basement.

I don't consider either one of them an autograph. But if you are interested, I can leave them on the front porch for you.

I have to sign all of my paintings. I used to sign on the back, just like Georgia O'Keeffe (“Would you sign your face?”), until my California gallery balked and said I would have to fly out and sign everything on the front. I am no longer with the gallery, but since I don't like to fly, I decided to sign everything on the front from now on.

It appears that the Heisman committee has honored another jerk. Johnny Manziel. He joins O.J. Simpson and Reggie Bush. The difference is that Manziel is still playing, and he is still up to no good, and is an embarrassment to Texas A&M and college football.

He was suspended for half a game (ouch) because of allegations about a suspicious number of autographs he signed. If the world is flooded with Manziel autographs, how valuable or meaningful are they? Zero in my book.

“I have a Manziel autograph.”

“So what?”

Manziel sat on the sidelines during the first half of the A&M game with Rice, and then came in and turned on his charms. After one touchdown pass he pretended to sign autographs. It reminded me of another jerk: Terrell Owens, who pulled a Sharpie out of his sock after a touchdown, and signed the football.

After subsequent touchdown passes, Manziel taunted Rice players and was penalized. His coach pulled him. The school should pull him, and let him take his talents to the NFL, where someone, I hope, knocks his block off.

I know that Manziel and his family are frustrated. A&M has profited enormously because of Manziel, and all Manziel has gotten out of it is a free college education, a national stage, an opportunity to prove himself to NFL scouts, and the potential for innumerable future endorsements. So he balks by behaving badly, setting a bad example for young athletes, and becoming a genuine bore.

But. A&M wins with him, and that's all we care about. San Francisco fans cheered every time Barry Bonds hit a home run. They should have booed.

We love wins, no matter how we get them, even if it takes five downs.

If I had Napoleon's signature, and the provenance that goes along with it, I would trade it all for a Vespa. I don't want any autographs in the house. It just seems like you are polishing someone else's shoes.

I would like to see Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sign an autograph, just to see how long it took. I would like to see Maria Sharapova sign an autograph, just to see her cursive.

Anyone who signs their name with a smiley face belongs in jail.

The only autographs I want are on big checks.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at


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