Leaving aside the clear questions of why a talented running back would travel to Tuscaloosa’s mall and sign Alabama apparel for a random, middle-aged small business owner, the decision is easier to justify if it only happened once. Maybe Richardson is just a nice guy motivated by the boundless depth of his heart. But…based on the photo obtained this evening by OutkicktheCoverage.com, Trent Richardson made more than one trip to T-Town Men’s Wear to sign Alabama apparel. Either that or he changed pants mid-signing. Who know, maybe it was getting hot in there — commence singing along with the song, I did.
As you can see from the above photo, Richardson is signing more than one jersey and both jerseys appear to have price tags presently affixed to them. What’s more, the jerseys have Richardson’s name on the back which means they have to be specially ordered. NCAA regulations don’t permit any stores to sell jerseys with Richardson’s actual name on them. Why, you might ask, would he allow his photograph to be taken while signing specially ordered jerseys that aren’t available for purchase in traditional retailers? Surely if this was merely a gift for the owner, the owner wouldn’t require proof that the person in the store actually signed the jersey, right? He’d know because he’d have seen it. Could it be that someone else wants proof that Richardson actually signed the jersey?
I don’t know, a buyer perhaps?
We’re less than 24 hours into unpacking the extraordinarily odd relationship between a haberdasher and Alabama’s football program, and I don’t think we’ve even seen a fraction of what’s to come. What’s more, we’re only three days into the life of OKTC and already — already! — we’re driving the coverage of ESPN’s Joe Schad and receiving no acknowledgment. This has to be a record, right? In case you missed it Schad took a break from his legal depositions in the Mike Leach case to get a comment from Alabama about its investigation into this matter initially reported by OKTC. Only, you guessed it, the report provided no foundation for how ESPN knew Bama might have a compliance issue with a clothing retailer in Tuscaloosa.
It was another castle in the sky story from ESPN, simply a report that Alabama compliance had looked into a local store and found nothing there. Not a suggestion of, you know, where the four-letter network might have become aware of Bama’s potential issue.
Since ESPN won’t acknowledge why its reporters are asking Alabama questions about our reports, I’ll go ahead and cut and paste ESPN’s six sentence “investigation” that was on the front page of the site. It’s a shame, really, if Joe Schad had just acknowledged that he was reading our website this morning, I probably could have gotten him some free pairs of Duck Head.
Here’s Schad’s investigative report:
“Alabama’s compliance department sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of a Tuscaloosa men’s clothing store in December, asking it not to use the likenesses of football players in any advertising or commercials.
Alabama looked into the relationship between T-Town, the store, and players such as star running back Trent Richardson and concluded that the players did not receive benefits such as merchandise or discounts, a source said. Student-athletes can’t be featured in any commercial advertising. The school also looked into autographs seen at the shop. The Alabama compliance office is monitoring the situation. The NCAA and SEC have not been engaged, the source said, because there is not believed to be an eligibility issue.”
But rather than feud with ESPN’s attempt to pretend its reporters aren’t reading the site, it’s Friday, a time for beers, good cheer, and a robust start to the weekend. After three days, I want to say thanks to all who came to hang out at our site, to all of who emailed, and to the three of you who have threatend to kill me. You’re all beloved. Even you Legend from Paul Finebaum’s show.
And I hope that you’ll all be back again soon.
As a way to put aside any ill feelings brought about by our double breaking news reports in the past three days — if it’s any solace we’ll probably catch your rival school doing something too — I’d like to introduce you to the first Outkick The Coverage contest reader photo submitted to the site.
Meet Brent and his fiancee Erica.
That just might be an 80 yard punt.
If he can do it, so can you.
Go outkick your own coverage kids, and thanks for reading.