A few months back I received an email from Russell, a former Navy pilot, asking if I’d be interested in sculpting a custom fantasy football trophy for his league. He said he had seen my work on FantasyTrophies.com and noticed some of the trophies I sculpted for firefighters and cops and thought I’d be the perfect artist to create something for his group of guys. I gotta say, anytime I’m approached to do a custom trophy I’m always excited but it’s extra special when it’s for current and/or former members of our military. We had a couple email exchanges and then a phone conversation to hammer out the details of the design and then I got to work. Russell wanted additions to the large Armchair Quarterback trophy which he thought would work perfectly in representing a guy sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft. Features like a pilot helmet with a voice activated mic, a vest that holds their gear, and a helmet bag next to the recliner that would have a few beers in it were all musts. (OK, maybe the beers wouldn’t be in the cockpit) After grinding off the features of the Armchair Quarterback that were of no use, it was then time to start sculpting the details of the new design in Magic Sculpt. The biggest challenge was the mic of the helmet because I wanted it to be realistic and not a big, bulky object that seemed too clunky. I was able to achieve the desired result by bending a heavy gauge pin and sculpting the mic on the end of it. Once everything was done I went about applying the finishing coats of bronze and then mounted it to one of my handmade oak bases. Russell then sent me the info of the league’s ten past champions and I got right on engraving the plates. Coming up with a name for the trophy will happen once the league gets to see it and live with it for awhile. After all, you don’t want to rush such an important decision. Overall I was absolutely thrilled with how the Armchair Pilot turned out and I can’t wait to hear from Russell about the reaction of the guys in his fantasy football league when it’s finally unveiled. It was an honor to create something for a great group of men who have dedicated themselves to this great country. Good luck in your league guys. – Dave
The NBA Playoff match-ups are set and my Cleveland Cavaliers limp in to the first round as a 2 seed going up against the Indiana Pacers. It’s now time to see if health is ultimately more important than firing on all cylinders. Tyronn Lue has continually said that he feels good about his team entering the playoffs because they are all finally healthy. We shall see. Since the All-Star break the Cavs have been the most unpredictable team in the league. One game they look like the reigning NBA Champs and the following 3 games it seems like they couldn’t beat the team they put on the floor prior to Lebron’s return. It’s been frustrating to say the least. Defensively the Cavaliers look disinterested and completely out of sorts. The only thing that is consistent is the look on all of their faces as each night the opposing point guard break down their perimeter D and drives all the way to the bucket. The Cavs faithful will say it’s because Tristan Thompson has been out of the line-up and they have no rim protection. I’m not buying it. Defense starts with a willingness to lock your man down and not rely on the help behind you play after play. Plus, this has been a problem all season.
Now I’m not saying the Cavs can’t turn it on when Indiana rolls in to Cleveland for game 1. It’s always hard to bet against Lebron. His confidence in his ability and the guys around him is always comforting and it’s hard to dispute his domination over the Eastern Conference. Right now though this team doesn’t seem mentally tough enough to be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy when it’s all said and done. I hope I’m wrong. Go Cavs!
It’s always incredible when a customer of mine wants to stop by the shop to pick up their trophy in person. Today I got to experience just that. Keith A. , a detective from the Emergency Service Unit here in NYC, decided he’d drive nearly an hour on his day off to get his league trophy at my shop in Brooklyn. Any time I get to meet a fan of my trophies is special but it’s definitely even more so when it’s a member of the fire or police department. Hearing how Keith ran across the Armchair Cop and especially seeing his enthusiasm for the trophy is what made the day so memorable. I can’t wait to hear from the rest of the guys in his league. If they’re anything like Keith, I’m sure I’ll be in for quite a few more great days like this one. Thanks Keith and good luck in your league. -Dave
Naming your fantasy football team is something many owners spend weeks, if not months, trying to figure out. I’m no exception. I started in 2011 with a Roman theme when I named my team “The Roman Knows.” From there I moved on to “The Roman Empire”, “Roman Crusade”, “Roman Gladiator”, and “Rome’s Revenge.” This year I was racking my brain trying to come up with the next rendition when it hit me…”Make Rome Great Again.” For me though the true fun begins after the team is named because it’s then that I start to design my logo. Let’s just say that The Donald left me all kinds of possibilities. Here is what I came up with. Enjoy.
When it comes to my fantasy football trophies I know one thing to be certain: wives do not like them. So if you’re married be forewarned. When I sculpted The Armchair Quarterback way back in 1993 I knew it had to be large and proud. It had to be a trophy that would demand respect and make a statement. Both were achieved. Years later when I introduced The Throwback my criteria remained the same. Wives though just don’t see them the same way. I believe the words “ridiculous” and “monstrous” have been uttered on more than one occasion. I had one friend’s wife even tell me that she hoped her husband wouldn’t win his league because she knew it meant he would proudly display the Armchair Quarterback in their family room for the entire year. Such a shame.
A lot of fantasy football leagues are realizing that playing for a loser trophy adds another level of excitement and competition. I can speak from experience. I didn’t sculpt the Ultimate Loser until my league was nearly 15 years old and the reason I did it was to keep guys fully engaged in the league for the entire season. Some guys, knowing that they had no chance at the league trophy, would kinda pack it in at the end of the year. It happens all the time in fantasy football leagues and many times it can cost another team a birth in the playoffs. We’ve all seen it happen. With a loser trophy though hanging over the heads of all league owners, no one can take a week off. The possible humiliation of being on a loser trophy just won’t allow it.
It’s been two weeks since my hometown Cleveland Cavaliers won game 7 of the NBA Championship after being down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors and I think it’s finally starting to sink in. Watching the 4th quarter of the game every other day seems to help.
As many of you know, I’m a huge Cleveland sports fan and thus suffered through the heartache and misery of the Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers for the last 40 years. Unless you’re a Cleveland fan you just can’t fully understand the gravity of continually losing in the most gut wrenching, rip your heart out kind of ways. Or the long agonizing droughts all three teams have experienced. So for the Cavaliers to finally win a Championship after Cleveland fans have suffered for 52 years, was an indescribable moment. One that I knew I had to experience in Cleveland.
When the Cavaliers won game 6 my wife turned to me as I crawled into bed and asked, “what happened? Did they win?” I simply said, “I’m going to Cleveland.” She knew that I wasn’t joking. I’ve told her all along that if any Cleveland team had a shot at a Championship I’d be experiencing the moment in my hometown. Two days later I was on the road at 6 am making the eight hour trip from Brooklyn, NY. The next 8 hours would be filled with thoughts of a miraculous comeback from a 3-1 deficit (something no team had ever done in NBA history) and a ticker tape parade through the streets of downtown. The images I had floating around in my head though were hard to embrace. After all, I’d been burned so many times in the past that I think I didn’t want to get too excited. Misery hurts that much more when you’re coming down from a place of confidence and glee.
When my friends and I arrived downtown the streets were bustling with fans that had the same kind of wishful confidence that was brewing inside of me. Would this be THE night? We eventually found ourselves at a hotel bar that was packed with screaming patrons. All of us with one common desire; to witness and experience history. The game was a back and forth battle with neither team able to deliver a knockout blow. When Golden State surged slightly ahead in the fourth quarter you could feel the “here we go again” air fill the room. I’ve breathed it in many times in my 45 years and know exactly what it tastes and feels like. The Cavaliers however would quickly answer and soon found themselves in a 89-89 tie with just over 4 minutes left in the game. The collective heartbeat of the 100+ fans in that hotel bar raced as all of us felt that our dreams of a Championship might actually be realized. Then it happened. With just under a minute to go in the game, Kyrie Irving launched a 3 pointer that will forever live in Cleveland sports history. It was the shot that put us ahead for good. As the final seconds ticked off the clock the bar erupted in screams, laughter, embrace, and overall hysteria. I was in partial disbelief as I hugged friends and total strangers. We had all been downtown for the chance we’d experience what was now taking place; absolute collective joy. 52 years of suffering was gone. The curse was finally dead. Cleveland had its Championship!
The exuberance would soon fill the streets as ecstatic fans of all ages, colors, and nationalities spilled out of the bars. Everyone was now hugging and high fiving, yelling and chanting, laughing and crying. This was pure heaven for a sports fan. The misery and suffering of 52 years was finally being washed away in one night. A night that I had wished for so many years and now one that I’ll never forget.
Three days later the ticker tape parade happened where an estimated 1.3 million fans filled the streets of Cleveland. People from all over the country and world were there to take in the experience. I made sure that I was one of them. My friend Mario and I were downtown by 6 am in order to grab the perfect parking spot and hold our place along the route. Little did we know that getting a location that early didn’t matter since the streets would be overrun with fans. The parade was even delayed because the route was clogged with so many people that the parade couldn’t get through. This was Cleveland! A city and it’s fans that had been waiting for this moment for five decades. As Lebron, Kyrie, JR Smith, and all the other players slowly drove past I found myself reflecting back on the heartache of years gone by. “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, “Red Right 88”, “The Shot”, Jose Mesa, “The Decision”, and many others were now finally going to take a back seat to the incredible memories from the most amazing week I had ever experienced in my beloved hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Last season I continually started Sam Bradford as my QB on my fantasy football team and each week he proved that I was an idiot for instilling my faith in him. That’s fantasy football though. Sometimes you get blindsided by the promise of the offense and fail to see the ineptitude of not only the player but the entire team. So when the Philadelphia Eagles decided to sign Bradford in the offseason to a two year deal worth a guaranteed $22 million, many like myself thought they were insane. He proved for the entire 2015 season that he’s an average starting QB at best.
The Eagles eventually came to their senses after he signed that contract and they went ahead and traded multiple picks to the Cleveland Browns so that they could move up in the Draft and take North Dakota quarterback Carson Wentz. Now Bradford is complaining and expressing his displeasure with the situation. Unreal. Here’s an idea Sam- Play better! When the Green Bay Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre never said a word. He was confident in his talent and kept Rodgers on the bench until Green Bay was forced to decide on the young gun slinger vs. the aging veteran. Bradford on the other hand complains because he knows the organization mortgaged the future for a strong armed, no nonsense rookie that will be looking to take his job from day one. Sam Bradford needs to grow a set and show up with the mentality that he’s going to keep Wentz on the bench for as long as he can. You signed the contract Sam. Now live up to it.
My two cents on day one of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Laremy Tunsil’s epic 2016 NFL Draft will forever be remembered because of the video that was posted to Twitter just 13 minutes before the first pick was announced. In it Tunsil is seen wearing a gas mask bong and, unlike Bill Clinton, clearly is inhaling. The video created shock waves that every GM at the top of the Draft couldn’t ignore. Tunsil fell from the projected first overall pick at one time, all the way to #13. The video cost him millions.
For the Dolphins, it could be the steal of the Draft if Tunsil lives up to his one time projection as the top overall player. Let’s face it, every GM knows that players smoke pot but they don’t want their name attached to a guy that has controversy linked to him before he even enters the league. Apparently Miami’s front office felt convinced the reward vs. the risk was worth it. We shall see.
One thing however is for certain. The NFL will use Laremy Tunsil’s night as a warning to all incoming players on what not to do.