The Big 5-0-0

I am the worst with milestones. When I got to select mine and Kayle’s anniversary, I chose February 24th. Long story short, our actual day has been shrouded in mystery and the “other” day we thought it was had been claimed by her Mom and step dads marriage (selfish, right?) So, in the Deke fashion I have shown since Day 1, I selected Kobe Bryant’s jersey number. She also might be finding this out here, but I’m banking on her not reading this. Love you!

TFTB was started in a place I hold near and dear to my heart at the corner of 6th and Penn Ave at a dinosaur of a location called Six Penn Kitchen. The Disgruntled Ex Employee Josh Elsass had a master plan to take over the world (typical week day for him to be honest) and we just grabbed a beer and talked. Six Penn Kitchen was a beautiful place full of beautiful people, just wanted to throw that out there.

The common theme of the night was “there has to be more”. We didn’t know what that was or what it would look like, but we just wanted to do something. I’ve gotten time to speak with a few kids from Point Park and Duquesne while at Brunner, and the thing I ALWAYS add into my presentations is “It’s not easy to do something. For some people, they spend their whole lives saying they want to do something. The people who are happy are the people who do those things” in some form or another, and it’s a mantra I try to beat into the Benchers heads every day. Just. Do. Something.

So, in again typical Deke fashion, I told Josh that I was starting a blog and a podcast and bought http://www.thoughtsfromthebench.com that same night. I’m not sure why the name was what I wanted, but it felt good. I wrote about six blog posts for the site to be present, and as we saw down the road writing by yourself is a daunting task, no matter the topics.

The next step was to some how, some way, convince the single most popular member of TFTB today to come by my apartment once a week, put himself out there in a way I didn’t think he wanted to be, and to get that beautiful man Greg Malek on my podcast.

If you want a REAL trip down memory lane, check out our YouTube page. TFTB was at one point the best Wrestling outlet in the Pittsburgh area, in large part thanks to Josh and his friends. Anastasia was basically talent scouted from the videos and we also created a character called the Indie Darling who, to this day, is still a mystery. Please, watch the first minutes of this episode because it is perfeect.

Fast forward about half a year and you’ll find the article that still to this day holds the highest number of views of all time for TFTB, a blog expressing the passing of Mac Miller to the city of Pittsburgh. It was the first piece of content produced that wasn’t an outlandish wild sports take, and to this day that blog is the balance for me between our content and our bloggers, a fine line between our ridiculous sports endeavors and us as humans expressing ourselves.

TFTB has created some strong friendships. Despite Greg Malek actually technically sort of selecting Benny Buckets of Elsass in the Corn Hole Matchup, there are still some strong friendships. I’ve had a multitude of guys DM me to ask to be a part of this thing, and one of them was someone I had never even met in my life. S/O Brooksy. Also, S/O to our House Cup, which failed slightly miserably but was still an amazing endeavor.

Today, we hit our 500th blog. Right here right now. We have a once a week podcast that’s been going for almost two years and a Facebook live show that has averaged 12 live viewers over two years, which means a lot to myself and Greg considering we did the first year with only my parents watching. We have produced videos for the Yinzer Mob, our sponsor By The Wayside Coffee, our TFTB Corn Hole Team and so much more. We’ve covered a Mutiny Hockey Tournament, thrown gaming tournaments, had fans all over the country and EVEN got Greg to shotgun a beer. From the Wiffle Ball Game to the Corn Hole video, we’ve made a ground floor that I can’t wait to push in 2020.

I love our guys and what we’ve created. I love that Greg still finds joy in Two Beers Deep. Love that Elsass seems to get more and more of his friends involved each week. Love that Mac, despite being a stupid head Bills fan, is our only legit writing expert and actually spell checks. Love that Benny Buckets was one of the first guys to ask to be on board. Love that Smalls sent me basically a GD resume. Love that the RankKing has been our highest viewed blogger to reward Austin’s hard work. Love that Andre didn’t show up on time and continues to try to use that against me for some weird reason. Love that Vo keeps our amazing store running. Love that Marty can make every one of these nerds interested in e-sports because of his passion. Love that Brooksy, without knowing a soul, jumped right in and has been amazing. Love that Peter CONTINUES TO TALK SHIT ABOUT THE BROWNS until the day the kid dies. Love that the Corn Hole team turns out amazing content and has been our champions. Love that the Wrestling League started without me even knowing, which is not a smack that I don’t know whats going on but a praise that amazing things can happen when amazing people get together. Love that Mike wrote three freaking articles and is still like, top ten in views. Love that Boyd has become a cult hero amongst the benchers. Love that Cody made our logos in like, two seconds flat and they haven’t changed. Love that Dennis has been our strongest supporter on all fronts (besides my mom and dad of course). Love that Fish Dawg still attends the live events and keeps me grounded. Love that we have fans like A.J. Stewart, Natty, Curt, my Parents, Hop, Colorado, Matt Christopher and so many names that the average fan know and connect with continue to watch and support the show. I love the connections we’ve made with By The Wayside, Yinzer Mob and so many amazing orgs and people. I love my brother for letting me run this out of our house and for putting up with my shit. I love kayle for alloweing me to bounce every idea, great or terrible, off of her and shes supportive. I love my parents for not only supporting me, but supporting each member of TFTB through thick and thin, and telling me when I’m wrong and what they love about the show and the website.

There are a million other people I should thank, but in all seriousness I was about a week away from quitting everything – blog, podcast, videos – and then randomly, people started to want to get involved. I think about that a lot. Literally, I wanted to quit doing this so many times. “No viewers, no comments, no one cares…” and on, and on, and on. Yet, the guys we have creating content kept the dream alive for me.

But above all else. Above everything that TFTB has done or created. I love that you still read this, not because it’s my blog or because it’s “my” anything, but because it means TFTB – as an entire unit – is doing something right.

The best part? We really haven’t even tried our hardest yet. Here’s to 2020 and 500 more.

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