It’s kind of hard to trade autographs with Matt Ellis.
Matt Ellis never worries about having his autograph collection stolen.
He’s always wearing it.
The 38 year-old human resources staffing specialist from Auburn, Indiana has had over 30 members of past and present Indianapolis Colts sign his body. He then turns them into tattoos. His unique ‘collection’ did pay off this week, though. Ellis was the winner of Upper Deck’s Ultimate NFL Fan Contest.
His entry earned a $1,500 shopping spree on NFLShop.com and his own football card. Ellis has been collecting signatures of his favorite players since 2007.
“I’ve been a Colts fan since the Jim Harbaugh days. It was probably in the early ‘90s that I started following them,” said Ellis, a 38-year-old human resources staffing specialist. “But it wasn’t until 2007 that I started collecting their signatures on my body.”
Ellis displayed his signatures and wrote a note about why he deserved the "Ultimate Fan" title and obviously the judges were impressed with his commitment.
“Matt is obviously a big football fan,” said Carrie Peterson, Upper Deck’s online marketing manager. “But to have more than 30 tattoos inked across his body from his favorite NFL team showed us just how fanatical he is.”
The first “auto-tatt” (autographed tattoo) Ellis nabbed was from then-team-punter Hunter Smith. Following a local concert at which Smith’s acoustic rock band “Connersvine” performed, Ellis sought to get Smith’s signature on a football. Accompanied by his wife, Ann, Ellis decided while waiting in line to give her the football to get signed and was ready to simply have his ticket stub autographed. Ann jokingly said: “Have him sign your leg.” Suddenly a new pursuit was born.
Today, Ellis has signatures of 31 different Colts players and two coaches from the 2006 NFL championship team tattooed on his body. “My legs are both covered from the knees down,” he said. He’s scored the majority of the autographs during Colts training camp in Terre Haute over the past three years and still has 21 more signatures to get from the Super Bowl-winning team. Both Marvin Harrison and Bob Sanders remain high on his must-have list.
“I feel they are two of the most valuable to obtain, so they’re right there with the best of the best,” said Ellis. “I’m afraid I might be going to the grave without Marvin’s, but we’ll see what happens.”
His most cherished auto-tatt of all remains the one he got on his left shoulder from former head coach Tony Dungy. “I love all my auto-tatts,” he said, “but since you’re asking for faves, I’d have to say the legend – Coach Dungy – is my favorite. Honorable mentions would be Joseph Addai and Dallas Clark.
“I can’t think of any other way to show these championship football stars my appreciation for what I believe is the most spirited and out-of-this-world team.”
In addition to appearing on his own Upper Deck football card inside a yet-to-be-determined 2010 set, Ellis has agreed to get Upper Deck’s “Ultimate Fan” logo tattooed on his chest.
“Are you kidding me? Absolutely I will wear the Upper Deck Ultimate Fan logo wit honor. If you are willing to put me on a trading card, the best I can do would be to ink and represent Upper Deck,” he said.