A bad sign for Charles and Bowe?

There is a longstanding rule for media members who cover professional sports: no autographs.

Fine by me. I am no longer 12 years old. I no longer have an urge to collect a scribbled name.

Clearly, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe feel differently. And I have no problem with it.

In this age of every step of everyone’s life being scrutinized, the hot sports flap on Nov. 27, 2012 is that Charles and Bowe -- arguably the best two players on the 1-10 Kansas City Chiefs -- went all fan boy on Denver quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday after Manning and the Broncos beat the Chiefs 17-9.

Kansas City television station KCTV caught Charles waiting for Manning as he departed the stadium to get his autograph. Charles told the station he was getting the autograph for his mother. Bowe got his photo taken with Manning.

So what.

Here are a couple of reasons I cannot join the legions who are in a tizzy over … I guess we’ll call it "Autographgate."

One, it happens all the time. We are hearing from a lot of former players who say they never asked an opponent for an autograph. I believe them. But many players do. I’ve seen it plenty of times. Opposing players often trade jerseys, pose for photos and sign footballs for each other. I’ve seen that many times, too.

Two, unlike the media, there are no rules for athletes getting another player's autograph. More than us normal citizens, pro athletes can appreciate a talent like Manning more because they know what goes into having immense natural gifts and utilizing them. There is a kinship and connection between these players we can’t understand. There is nothing wrong with Charles and Bowe collecting mementos of their professional careers.

Of course, Bowe, a pending free agent who recently said he wants to remain with the Chiefs, didn’t do himself any favors in the eyes of Kansas City fans when he indicated he wouldn’t mind catching passes from Manning in the future. But that’s just Bowe. He says a lot of things that don’t necessarily mean much.

I do understand that it looks bad for players from a one-win team showing this side of themselves, and I don’t really have an argument other than it happens routinely after NFL games. The truth is, pro athletes often get over losses much faster than fans do. Look at the end of any NFL game. Players from the losing team can be seen talking and laughing with players from the team that just beat them. It happens after every game.

Charles and Bowe are just being pointed out for it. But I can’t buy that it makes them uncaring players.