Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 7/14/12

Would you fork out $125 for Cam Newton to sign a photo?

If you’re planning on visiting the Carolina Panthers quarterback Saturday afternoon at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, that’s how much you’ll have to pay for a signed picture. It will cost $150 if you want his signature on a football, $175 if you want a signed jersey and if you want a personalized message (i.e. Best of luck, Jesse), that will set you back an extra $50.

Fair or foul?

Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer believes that Newton is wrong to reach into fans’ pockets in his new hometown.

“Newton has done almost everything right in Charlotte since he arrived,” Fowler writes. “This, though, is a false step.”

“For some reason, it feels different to me when Newton is charging for autographs in Alabama. That was from a different time in his life. That’s like Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith going back to Dallas to charge for autographs (which they do),” he added. “In Charlotte, though? Newton shouldn’t charge for autographs in his current hometown. That’s part of just being part of the community.”

That’s one way to look at it. Honestly, I thought the same thing when I first heard the news, but I don’t make any judgments based on knee-jerk reactions. After getting all the facts and examining the situation, I realized that there is nothing wrong with Cam Newton charging for autographs. Here’s the deal:

After leaving Auburn, Newton signed a multi-year contract with GT Sports Marketing to do autograph shows and avoid fake/unauthorized merchandise (which is apparently a major issue among sports memorabilia collectors). This will be the sixth autograph signing show that Newton has done for the company since early 2011.

And to be fair, Newton has signed plenty of free autographs since becoming a national phenomenon at Auburn. At training camp, youth football camps and other events, he smiles, welcomes fans with open arms and often stays longer than anyone else to please his admirers. Newton has even signed free autographs and donated the proceeds to charity.

Not to mention, charging for autographs is not something only done by Cam Newton. Dozens of professional athletes do this kind of thing on a regular basis. In fact, even Tim Tebow, the angel of the NFL, charged fans for his Hancock at an autograph signing back in April.

Most importantly, Cam Newton is not just a professional football player; he’s also a businessman who’s trying to make money in a capitalistic nation. While the Panthers certainly give him plenty of dough, what’s wrong with trying to make a little bit more by selling his signature? Why should he have to STOP attempting to earn money simply because he has a multi-million dollar contract?

He shouldn’t.

The bottom line: If you don’t want to pay $150 for Cam’s autograph, then you don’t have to. Cam Newton is simply capitalizing on his brand and image and providing something – in this case, his signature – that holds significant monetary value. Since many of the people who get free autographs from famous people turn around and sell them anyway, Cam’s just taking his share of the proceeds.

That’s called smart business.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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