IRVING, Texas (AP) — Cowboys running back Tashard Choice apologized via Twitter on Monday to anyone bothered by him asking Eagles quarterback Michael Vick for an autograph right after a loss.
He’ll get a chance to say more about it in an upcoming conversation with interim coach Jason Garrett.
Garrett wouldn’t say what he thought of the incident and repeatedly described Choice as a hardworking, passionate player. However, Garrett still plans to discuss it all with Choice.
“I certainly defend him,” Garrett said. “I know how hard guys compete in this league and how they battle against each other. I also know about the healthy respect that guys have for each other.”
As Vick was walking off the field, Choice approached with a white glove and a black marker. Choice can be seen explaining his request, handing over the marker and Vick happily providing his signature. Vick even rubbed the top of Choice’s head as they said goodbye, the two having known each other for several years.
NBC cameras were rolling and showed the whole thing to a national audience. Announcers chuckled as it happened, but didn’t comment. By Monday, it became a topic of debate coast-to-coast and all over the Internet.
As public opinion turned against him, Choice tweeted the following: “If its anybody that cares about winning and the d cowboys its me. I apologize to the people it was just an innocent jesture for my nephew.”
Choice was among the majority of players already gone when reporters were allowed in the locker room Monday. Those still around didn’t seem to care about it.
“I don’t think that it’s that big of a deal,” tight end Jason Witten said. “I don’t think any of us thought much about it.”
“That’s Tashard’s prerogative,” linebacker Keith Brooking said. “That did not affect the outcome of our game. I’m worried about things that are going to affect the outcome of our game and helping us win. Tashard getting an autograph from a player after a game doesn’t affect us losing.”
Vick and Choice knew each other from their days in Atlanta. Vick played for the Falcons while Choice played for Georgia Tech. Vick called the running back “a great guy.” He also said he’d never been asked to sign anything for another player on a field right after a game.
Cowboys defensive end Stephen Bowen said Choice’s mistake may have been doing it “in the public eye like that.”
“But just getting an autograph for a little guy? I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Bowen said. “The game was over. It wasn’t in the middle of the game. It’s blown out of proportion. I don’t see it as a big deal. I don’t know why you would be upset. What is there to be upset about?”
Choice is the Cowboys’ third-string running back and had only 14 carries through 11 games. He ran for 100 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Indianapolis — endearing himself to fans — but ran seven times for only 16 yards against Philadelphia. Dallas lost 30-27.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.