signs the painting on November 16, 2015 only to
have to take it off 9 months later because I
sold it to the Stampeders. They presented to
John on September 13th in a private ceremony, I
believe it was his birthday gift.
I remember the day
when John left a message on my answering machine
to get back to him in regards to him signing my
painting. It was about a week before hand that I
sent him a letter asking for his signature on
this piece and his permission to show case the
piece at my exhibit that was coming up in
November of 2016. I figured if I asked for two
things I would at least get one of them.
I got a
hold of him the next day which was November 16.
I was in Red Deer at the time when I called him
which was about 1:30pm and he said to meet him
at the Stamps office at 3:30pm cause he was
going home at 4:pm. I thought holy crap I still
have to go home and pick up the painting and
then head down to the McMahon. I told my boss
Jason that I was getting my painting signed by
John Hufnagel...see you later!...lol I really
don't recall what he said. Well by the
time I got home, down to the stadium, and parked
in front of the Stamps office it was 3:25pm.
I went inside the
reception area and the secretary paged John. A
few seconds later at the top of the long stair
case in the main reception was Coach Hufnagel
welcoming me upstairs. By this time I was a) in
auhh that this was actually happening and B) it
seem surreal. What sucks about the surreal
things is that it was going too fast for me. All
I can think of is that this man needed to get
home by 4 and I was not going to be the one to
keep him late. We exchanged hand shakes
and I gave him an 8 x 10 photo of the painting
with my signature on it of course..lol He looked
at the painting grabbed my sharpie and signed it
on the white space below his right arm on the
painting. He didn't say anything about the
painting. He just signed it and then we talked
about the next game coming up which was the
Western Final against Edmonton. He seem nervous
about the game and said that it was going to be
a tough game against the Eskis. About the
only thing I could say was " don't worry you
guys have done well so far and you will do good
". I felt like I was talking to one of kids
before they played a game. " Don't worry just go
out there and do your best and have fun!"...I
don't really think it was the game that was
going through his mind but I think he was sad
that his coaching days were coming to an end.
Before I knew it
I was shaking hands with one of the greatest
coaches in CFL history and thanking him for
signing my art rendering of him. Then just like
earlier on, that surreal thing came back
to me and I found myself sitting in my car again
reminiscing about what just took place.
It was one of
those situation where I wished I could have
taken a video camera and recorded everything!
In one way I was so pumped that I got my
painting of Coach Huf signed by the man himself
but at the same time I was kind of sad for him.
He had such a great career as a coach and it was
coming to an end.
That night when I
finally got a chance to hang my painting up
again I noticed he signature for the first time.
You see earlier on after John signed it I just
stuck the piece inside my portfolio holder,
zipped it up and stuck it inside my car. But now
I have this painting in front of me and I am
looking at the signature and I noticed that it
says Joe Hufnagel....!
I said to my wife
Michele " Oh no John signed the painting Joe
instead of John!"..Well not much I can do about
it..It is what it is! I thought hey what a hell
of a story for this painting.
As it happened
and like I mentioned earlier I had to paint over
it. But not before I talked about it with my
friend who is the Marketing Manager for the
Calgary Stampeders. I said to him that
John signed it Joe and then Hufnagel underneath
it. At first he didn't believe me then I sent
him the photo. He did some digging and found out
that this is the way John signs. He signs so
quickly that he mixes his H and N together in
one loop type squirrely letter that looks like
Then I got to
thinking about my own signature, well I can
never sign the same way twice and my letters are
hard to read so I guess John signature would
It's a pretty
cool story that happened on that November day in
It was a day that
my rendering of John Hufnagel and myself were a
part of a moment in his career.
Joe Versikaitis - Sports Artist