Peyton Manning has signed a lot of autographs in his life, but it's in the twilight of his career that he now feels like he's signing more than ever -- including penning his name for his teammates.
"I feel like they're dropping hints to me," Manning said at Tuesday's Super Bowl media day. "It's sort of like, 'Can't we do this in the spring?'"
Manning's impression is actually the reality, according to Ross Tannenbaum, president of Fanatics Authentic, a new autograph business started up by Fanatics, the nation's largest online retailer of licensed sports products.
As part of Fanatics' purchase of Tannenbaum's company Dreams Inc., Fanatics absorbed the exclusive autograph deal with Manning, and Tannenbaum says in his eight years with Manning's deal, he's never had the quarterback sign more.
"He has signed for four or five hours for us in one session, which isn't normal during the season," Tannenbaum said. "Each time, Manning surpassed a milestone -- seven touchdowns in a game, most touchdowns in a season, 60,000 career passing yards -- there would be more demand."
Tannenbaum said the popularity of Manning's signature has to do with the class that Manning displays both on and off the field, as well as a signature that, in an age of scribble, is legible.
"He takes his time," Tannenbaum said.
And he'll sign everything but one item: The Sept. 22, 1997 Sports Illustrated, which features a cartoon of him in a Tennessee uniform getting bitten by a gator with the headline "Gator Bait, Again?" The issue came out days after his team lost to Florida for the fourth straight year with him at the helm.
Fanatics, which runs the NFL's online store, sells a Manning-signed Broncos mini helmet for $350, and autographed 16-by-20 photos from his only Super Bowl victory for $300.
The company, which will be the only national autograph firm to sell solely through its own distribution system, has quietly signed exclusive deals with the likes of Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, as well as legends Dick Butkus and Jim Brown.