Since it’s that time of year, training camp and all, I thought I would share my all time favorite autograph story. A handful of NFL players get a lot of negative press for the stupid things they do off the field, but most of the rest of them are great guys who do a lot for the communities they play in, and for kids. This story is about one of my favorite NFL players EVER, and why he is.

In 2001 I took my nine year old son Tyler to Chargers Fan Fest out at UCSD. There was a practice, a bunch of inflatable toys for the kids to play on, face painting, and an autograph session. My son was having a good time with everything else, so he got to the autograph area late. He wanted to get Junior Seau’s autograph, the most popular Chargers player at that time, but the line was a mile long line. With only about five minutes left in the session, I suggested he head for one of the less crowded tables. We were standing near one of the defense tables, so he headed over there with the program book that I had gotten him earlier. There were a lot of bigger kids pushing their way in, and he was having trouble finding the player’s pictures in the book. He got a bit flustered, and was fighting back tears when Gerald Dixon (a linebacker with the Chargers from 1998-2001) noticed what was happening. He asked me Tyler’s name and said “hey Tyler, come on over here.” Dixon signed his book, and called over Raylee Johnson and Marcellus Wiley. All three of them talked to Tyler and signed his book as I got some photos (crappy photo, I know). Needless to say, it went from being a bad situation to a great one, Tyler was smiling and having a great time the rest of the day, and asked me if we could come back next year.

Gerald Dixon will always hold a special place as one of my favorite Chargers, but also one of my favorite dudes. Thanks Gerald!