February 19, 2010
Florida fans willing to brave the adoring crowds following Gator games and practices are used to taking their little bite out of Tim Tebow's soul for free. He was a fawned-over recruit and the most celebrated, sought-after player in the nation for the last three years, but anyone who could actually get to the Tebow Child (not always an easy task) was likely to come away with an autograph. He was known to limit his post-practice signing sessions to kids and openly criticized "the eBay guys" only looking to pass on the signature for a buck: "I wish we could just get all the eBay guys out, that would be great," he told the Orlando Sentinel last spring. "[T]he stuff gets on eBay every day. … That's just not good for the Gators."
Since he's no longer a Gator, though, or restricted by the NCAA's heavy-handed emphasis on "amateurism," those autograph seekers had better be prepared to pay through the nose:
Tebow will appear at Palm Beach Autographs on March 6 in what the store calls Tebow's "first-ever public autograph session." Admission is $160 a pop.
Steve Dodson, co-owner of Palm Beach Autographs, said $160 is a very competitive prize for a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. Dodson said the Tebows chose to work with PBA since they were Jacksonville customers years back.
"We had built a relationship with them, and after his senior year we were able to work something out," Dodson said.
Viva free markets! Some hustling economics student should compare the turnout for the $160 session in Jacksonville to the massive crowd that stood in line for Tebow's autograph last month at the Senior Bowl, only to leave empty-handed when the star of the show was forced to back out at the last minute thanks to a lingering case of strep throat.
Personally, I'd never bet against Tebow Mania, especially considering that an autograph session with outgoing Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody last month proved so popular -- the crowd stretched the length of the Huntsville mall where Cody was signing twice -- that he's making another appearance on Saturday. Mount Cody's people figure to clean up, too: His signature will cost between $25 (for a standard autograph) and $150 (for a signed Crimson Tide helmet). Or you can get one on eBay for about half that. However you want to go.