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
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.
Rumors are swirling that my beloved Cleveland Browns are interested in trading for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I gotta admit, when this news first broke I was pretty excited about the possibility. However, now that some of the dust has settled I’m leaning more towards saying thanks but no thanks to Chip Kelly and the 49ers. The main reason is that I truly believe that the Browns need to draft Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in this year’s draft and give him every opportunity to succeed. I realize that succeeding as a Browns quarterback is more challenging than landing a man on Mars but it doesn’t mean you stop dreaming. Kaepernick’s best days were clearly with Jim Harbaugh as his coach and he hasn’t been the same QB sine he left. Pair that with multiple injuries and Kaepernick seems like a QB that may not regain his exciting form of years gone by. Also, it scares me that Chip Kelly would be willing to deal an athletic QB such as Kaepernick in order to possibly be stuck with the ultimate underachiever in Blaine Gabbert. Why? Possibly because Chip Kelly knows that Kaepernick’s confidence is shot and the recent injuries have taken away his explosive speed and quickness. Who knows.
I say draft Wentz and let him learn for a year behind Josh McCown. The Browns are rebuilding (surprise, surprise) and trading a 3rd round pick for a QB with serious question marks just doesn’t seem like the wisest of decisions. Meaning : He’ll probably be a Brown within the week.
The NFL Draft is only a month away and that means the Browns are once again thinking QB. It seems to be a yearly event if you’re a Browns fan. Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, and Johnny Manziel are the most recognizable names in a long line of failed quarterbacks that have suited it up on the north coast. With Johnny Manziel completely imploding over the last few months, it’s time the Browns cut ties and look to draft their QB of the future. Is it Carson Wentz or Jared Goff? I gotta admit, I haven’t seen either one of them play in an actual game. However, the size and mobility of Wentz should definitely be a key factor in the decision. I think I speak for Browns fans everywhere when I say that I’m tired of watching small and/or slow quarterbacks try and compensate for their deficiencies. Johnny Manziel should be the poster boy for why you don’t take a QB that is shorter than 6 foot. Note to all GMs: Stop thinking you’ll find the next Drew Brees. It’s time the Browns draft a viable option at QB (that doesn’t have a drinking problem) and put all of their resources into developing him into the best quarterback possible. Trusting Hue Jackson in this endeavor is the first step. Trusting the quarterback, whomever it may be, is the next. I know I’m fully on board! Go Browns.!
Being invited to a fantasy football draft isn’t all that odd of an occurrence for me. Being invited to a fantasy football draft held by cops of the NYPD, now that’s something that doesn’t happen every day. So when I received an email from Avi, a police officer here in Brooklyn, I jumped at the chance. After all, it was a great excuse to have a few beers and scout how my draft might go down a few days later in Cleveland. Plus it was awesome to hear from the guys of the league on how they liked their trophy, The Armchair Cop. You see, Avi was the one that contacted me about designing a fantasy football trophy specifically for police officers. He had seen the couple of trophies that I did for firefighters and he was hoping I could do the same for them. I was all for it but only under one condition. I wanted them to help in the design. Avi and a few of the guys came to my shop and gave their input. From handcuffs to old school aviator glasses and a 70’s mustache, they were all included. The shoulder holster was my idea. The legendary character Fish from “Barney Miller” provided the inspiration. Anyway, the trophy turned out great, if I must say so myself, and it holds a special place in the history of FantasyTrophies.com. Soon it’s going to be up on the site and precincts all over the country will hopefully see the “charm” in playing for a trophy designed specifically for them, by them.
As I sit here in my Brooklyn studio writing this post, I still don’t think it has fully sunk in that two guys from Sports Illustrated and the MMQB were here interviewing me for a video feature on FantasyTrophies.com. As a ten year old I would draw images of athletes from the covers of SI, totally enthralled in capturing every detail. I would then cut them out and tape them to my bedroom walls as my little shrine to sports greatness. So to now have Sports Illustrated interested in something that I’ve done just doesn’t seem possible. After all, I’m just a guy from Cleveland, Ohio that hand crafts trophies for fantasy sports leagues. A Super Bowl MVP or Cy Young Award was never in the cards and I never dreamed the magazine that I so loved as a kid would actually one day interview me.
Matt and John’s reaction, upon entering my studio, made it clear that they thought they made the right decision. Matt admitted that the story of me starting in my parent’s garage and now producing trophies in a shop in Brooklyn was what drew him to the story. Hearing about how Jay-Z, Curt Schilling, Cole Hamels, and other celebrities play for my trophies was just icing on the cake. The real story was on how I found a niche that I love and was able to build a business off of that. Something that I know that ten year old boy would’ve thought was pretty cool as well.
Anyone that knows my Dad knows that he is no doubt the hardest working man you’ll ever run across. I guess when your formative years are spent in Italy, as a shepherd boy working on a farm, it tends to have an influence on who you become. Let’s just say the word “work” isn’t in his vocabulary. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Son, don’t think of it as work and, before you know it, it’ll be done.” So when my parents said they were going to come visit us in New York City during my busy season, I knew that my Dad had giving me a hand as his idea of a vacation. Hey, he was offering so I was accepting. Plus it gave us some time to connect since he’s in Cleveland and I’m in NYC and talking on the phone isn’t either one of our strengths. He came with me to the shop twice and I put him on finishing bases while I filled the numerous orders that came in just before draft season. Once I put on the 50’s station on Spotify I knew he could go all day without even thinking of taking a break. Break? I don’t even think he would’ve asked for a drink of water if I didn’t offer one up.
One thing I do know though is that I haven’t had that type of productive day in a long, long time. And learning a few dance moves was an added bonus.
Thanks Dad and you’re always welcome at FantasyTrophies.com. I’ll provide the music and water.
It’s been a crazy few months filling fantasy football trophy orders so I haven’t really been disciplined when it comes to the blog. I apologize. However, I’m going to be rolling out a few things in the next few weeks and trying to catch up on some of the news that occurred over these past weeks. Here is one thing that happened. I was featured in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Thank you Paula Katinas for writing a nice little article on FantasyTropies.com. Check it out here:
It’s been a long time coming but the Armchair Policeman is just about ready to join the ranks of the other fantasy football trophies on FantasyTrophies.com. I finished the sculpting phase of the trophy some time ago but it’s been a longer process getting it up on the site. FantasyTrophies.com is going to be relaunched soon with an entirely different look and feel and I figured that would be the ideal time to roll out the new trophy that was designed specifically for police officers. As some of you already know from a previous post, I had the great pleasure of working with a few individuals from the NYPD in coming up with the design. They had some key features that they felt had to be incorporated when I started sculpting. I was surprised a donut was one of them. The burly mustache and aviator glasses I must say were a nice touch and I took it upon myself to add the shoulder holster. A special shout out goes to Fish from “Barney Miller” for that one. Add a night stick and handcuffs on the floor and you have one fantasy football trophy that will no doubt turn some heads. So if you’re a policeman looking for a trophy to represent your precinct’s fantasy football league this year, shoot me an email and I’ll make it happen. – Dave