Autograph, Mr. Vick? Ex-Tech star Choice irks Dallas fans, then apologizes

Was it a serious breach of NFL protocol?

Or much ado about nothing?

Former Georgia Tech star and current Dallas Cowboys running back Tashard Choice ignited a national debate by going up to Michael Vick immediately after Sunday night's 30-27 loss to Philadelphia and getting Vick to autograph his glove.

Choice later apologized, via Twitter, to his critics. He'll have to discuss the incident in an upcoming conversation with interim coach Jason Garrett.

"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 tweeted Monday morning.

Still, some Cowboys fans took offense, calling it inappropriate right after a tough loss. Choice ran for just 16 yards on seven carries and caught a 17-yard pass.

"Hey Choice why don't you trying having a little self respect and overcome a 2.28 yards per carry average tonight," a frustrated fan wrote on the Dallas Morning News blog, then recalled Choice's pivotal fumble against Washington in the season opener. "You set the tone for the season and now you've set the tone to close it."

"If Jimmy Johnson was coaching the Cowboys, I'm thinking it'd be vaya con dios for Mr. Tashard Choice," tweeted Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch.

But in an online Dallas Morning News poll, 58 percent of fans agreed that "the game was over, it's not a big deal." Forty-two percent sided with, "It's a big deal, why would a player do that fresh off a loss?"

Choice felt compelled to explain himself on Twitter after the game.

"Listen y'all I know Vick. That glove was for my nephew who is 3. Not for me," he tweeted.

Choice elaborated a bit in an interview with the Morning News.

"I had to get one for him," said Choice, who met Vick when he played for Georgia Tech and Vick played for the Falcons.

"I have nothing but respect for [Vick]," Choice added. "I admire somebody who can overcome circumstances and come back and prove people wrong."

The Eagles quarterback, an MVP candidate, said "it's probably the first time" he's ever gotten an autograph request from an opposing player right after a game, "but it doesn't surprise me."

As a Yellow Jacket, Choice ran for 2,852 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2006 and 2007. The Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round in 2008.

When given a chance, Choice has proven highly productive. He's averaging 5.0 yards on his nearly 200 NFL carries, with seven touchdowns and only one fumble.

And he had plenty of defenders following the autograph brouhaha.

"These guys are bitter enemies on the field, but off the field they're supposed to be good sportsmen and civil to one another," one fan wrote on the Morning News blog. "Did [Cowboys coach] Jason Garrett not give Vick a hug after the game was over?"

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.