When New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was eight years old, he found himself in the San Francisco Giants locker room, asking for an autograph from Chili Davis, a star of the team at the time. Davis refused, but said, “Maybe later, boy, maybe if you come after the game.”

So young Brandy stayed, and after the game he went back to his favorite player, only to be rejected again with a “No, I will not sign autographs after the game.”

The effect stuck with Brady, both in terms of the disappointment it brought him and Brady’s future prospects for autographs when he found himself in similar situations.

“I certainly hurt myself,” Brady told Tuff Stuff magazine. “But at the same time, I was in the boy’s clubhouse and now I see it from a different perspective than I did when I was that age. At the time, however, it seemed like a small request.”

You’d hope that walking into the Patriot’s locker room and asking for autographs might be a quick way to kick butt, but there are certain ways you can get on the autograph author’s radar.

First, you must have something to sign. Having a player sign your arm may seem like a fun idea at the time, and they might accept it, but it’s largely a pointless act, as you’ll eventually take it off. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re not going directly to the tattoo parlor to have a tattoo artist draw the autograph, don’t bother signing the body. Always carry a good quality pen with you. What is the use of giving a player something to sign if you don’t give them the means to do so?

Next, find out who the hell you’re talking to. If you can call him by his name or say something to him that shows you have taken an interest in him, he will look at you with more sympathy than at a fan with a giant “P” painted on his beer belly.

The next thing to remember is location, location, location. It is much easier to get a player to sign something from a front row seat than from a second balcony seat. If you get a good seat and are also early to the game, you can try talking to the players as they pass. If you can get a guy to talk for a while, you might end up with some players stopping to chat.

Sometimes a player will star in the autograph signing and a crowd will quickly form. This is another reason to get there early. Fighting a crowd for signatures, or worse yet, being in your seat as dozens of people begin to crowd around you, is likely to annoy you the most.

If you can tell where players are entering and leaving the stadium, that’s another great place to find them ready to sign, pose for photos, and shake hands. If they are not in a hurry, they are much more likely to stick around for a while.

There is also always the traditional way to get an autograph: write for it. Most team clubs will accept mail and forward it to the player. When writing an autograph for an athlete, the same rules apply to any autograph request sent by mail:

* Always include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE).

* Include a photo and / or cards for the player to sign.

* Do not send food, money or gifts.

* Always include a letter acknowledging the player and his achievements.

* Be patient.

Sending fan mail:

To send fan mail to soccer player, simply write to their team’s address.

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