Tashard Choice defends autograph

Updated: December 16, 2010, 5:27 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Days after his highly publicized postgame autograph request for Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, Dallas Cowboys running back Tashard Choice defiantly challenged anybody who questioned his competitiveness.

"Am I more competitive if I would have tried to fight him after the game?" Choice said. "What would you say then? If we would have won the game? Sixty minutes is from the beginning to the end. That's all you play in a football game. When a game's over, it's over.

Choice Am I more competitive if I would have tried to fight him after the game? What would you say then? If we would have won the game? Sixty minutes is from the beginning to the end. That's all you play in a football game. When a game's over, it's over.

-- Cowboys' Tashard Choice on getting an
autograph from Michael Vick after Sunday's game

"There's no fan, there's no coach, there's no person in media who cares more about a game, winning or losing, that I'm playing in. I play -- you see what I'm saying? -- and I give everything I've got for 60 minutes. That's it. If you've got something to say, cool. Be in the NFL. Play. That's cool. You've got your opinion, and I've got mine."

Choice asked Vick to sign his glove on the field moments after the Eagles' 30-27 win Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium. Choice intends to give the glove to his 2-year-old nephew as a Christmas present.

NBC's cameras caught the exchange, setting off a firestorm of criticism and debate. Choice apologized Monday morning on Twitter, but he said Wednesday he just wishes he would have handled the request differently, such as by asking a locker room attendant to get the autograph for him.

"The reason for the apology was really not for getting the actual autograph," Choice said. "It was just for the simple fact that I didn't want anybody -- my teammates especially -- to feel disrespected. They didn't. They understood. That was my main thing. You feel me?

"Should it have been a different time? Yeah."

Interim coach Jason Garrett defended Choice on Monday, praising the third-year running back's competitiveness and commitment to football. Garrett said then he would discuss the incident with Choice, and Choice said his coach understood his perspective after a brief conversation.

Several of Choice's teammates have also defended him. Veteran quarterback Jon Kitna shared with Choice that he asked legendary quarterback John Elway to autograph a ball after a Seahawks-Broncos game early in Kitna's career.

"It didn't have anything to do with football," said Kitna, who still has the Elway-signed ball. "It doesn't matter if he did it on the field or not. Who cares? He wanted to get an autograph for his [nephew]. Boom, he got an autograph and move on.

"A lot of people have their opinion outside this locker room. Nobody [on the team] questions his intensity and the way he plays and commitment to this football team and acceptance of his role. Those are the things that we care about. If he wants to get an autograph, so be it."

Choice said he regretted that there was negative attention brought to the Cowboys because of his autograph request. However, he said he wasn't surprised that the story set off a media firestorm.

"They try to find something," Choice said. "People got to make their lives somehow. I don't get mad at you for doing that. The only thing it did was mess up my doggone surprise for my little nephew for Christmas."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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