If you’ve been a TFTB reader over the last few years, you might have seen my weekly “Vault” blogs, where I take a look back at some of the best (and worst) jerseys in sports history. If you haven’t, then you’ve made the list (kidding (but only a little)).
Essentially, I’ve always been obsessed with jerseys. Any time I’d see a 1992 Barry Bonds Pirates jersey, a throwback Randall Cunningham Eagles jersey, Brian Scalabrine Celtics jersey (etc.) at a party back at Penn State, I couldn’t help but go out of my way to pay a compliment to the person wearing it. I have always been fascinated with old uniforms, the different eras of sports, legendary players, yadayadayada. All of it was so cool to me (even the ugly ones), and I couldn’t get enough.
When I first started writing for Thoughts From The Bench about two years ago, my favorite blog to write was The Vault. I came in each week with five jerseys, gave a brief history on each, and expressed my opinion on the look, logos, colors, etc. These jerseys ranged from the cleanest looking, to the most heinous, to the rarest of finds, to the franchises that no longer exist, to the most legendary players, to the ones that brought me the biggest sense of nolstagia… it didn’t matter. I absolutely loved writing it, and was constantly trying to find new threads to write about.
Deke, TFTB’s founder, was always very supportive of The Vault. In his words: “This is amazing” (even though he’d never admit it now). He eventually suggested (probably more than just once) that I take the weekly blog and make it into an online show or clip series. If you know me personally, you’d know that I have an EXTREMELY quiet and reserved personality – I’ve even been called “stoic” by multiple people over the years. The thought of putting myself out there on camera did NOT appeal to me in the slightest, so I normally just brushed off Deke’s desires for The Vault to become bigger and better.
When I began my post-grad career, I felt I had to take a step back from TFTB to get my s**t together. Being a real adult wasn’t something I was used to (reference Smalls’ Thoughts on Being a Real Adult Now). Between that and my job being extremely demanding, I constantly felt like I was drained when I got home from every day. My desire to write and the enjoyment I got from it had somewhat faded. I did pop back into the TFTB scene from time to time for a quick blog or to cry about how Penn State football had broken my heart again. While I was always gung-ho for a few days, adult life seemed to always snatch that passion right back.
Don’t get me wrong, life wasn’t all bad outside of TFTB. I got to spend time with my beautiful girlfriend, went home to spend time with family, went out to the DC bars with the fellas, and even took trips to Hawaii and Nashville. But the drive to write was basically gone. I definitely missed it, especially when I saw that the Bench was starting to get sponsors, moving into a new studio, releasing new shows, and continuing to grow. However, there just wasn’t a ton left in the tank for me.
Then, quarantine hit.
I was bored out of my mind. The WFH grind was getting to me big time, so I wandered back to TFTB once again. With more time on my hands, I convinced myself (along with Deke and Elsass) that I was going to make The Vault into a weekly 5-minute video series focusing on a new jersey each week. I was fully on board, buying jerseys left and right to showcase on the show and constantly researching the best ways to go about editing the videos. I ended up being able to put three episodes together.
… and then I watched them back.
Christ, it sucked. Beyond corny. You could just tell I wasn’t comfortable talking to myself into a camera. I sounded like a robot. And since I had an engineering degree and had never actually done anything with video editing in the past, it’s not like the quality of the content was going to carry it. All of my drive and confidence was suddenly gone, and I frankly stopped talking about it altogether before ghosting TFTB once again. What was worse than anything was the feeling that I had left everything unfinished and never even really got started before quitting.
A few months went by, and once again, I started missing being a part of something cool. So I began tuning back into Two Beers Deep, which had moved from Facebook to Twitch while I was away. Deke eventually had me call into a few episodes to talk college football, and that’s when this happened:
The idea of bringing back the Vault had begun to take root once again. This time, though, I knew I had to bring someone else on with me. This was so I wasn’t so f*****g awkward on camera, and so someone could keep me honest about doing it consistently. I knew that was going to be the key to doing this the right way. Benny Buckets, esteemed colleague and former high school teammate, seemed like the only logical choice. We were comfortable enough around each other having known one another for years, and let’s face it, he’s WAY funnier than I am. Without Ben, this comeback wouldn’t have worked. I reached out, he seemed pumped about the idea right away, and we were immediately locked in. Our fate was sealed. We completely changed the format of the show, came up with what felt like a million ideas for episodes, and shot three “pilots” so that we could work out the kinks. The commitment was there, and our momentum couldn’t be stopped. By the third test run, Ben and I could look at each other and honestly say, “This is something that we could potentially be proud of”.
Bottom line? This Friday, New Years Day, The Vault is officially making its return to Thoughts From The Bench.
While it will always be tough for me to get on camera and put my face on the internet without looking painfully awkward, I believe in this thing. The last two years of writing and talking jerseys (albeit on and off) have finally culminated into something real and, frankly, super unique. If someone can find a show out there like ours, please send it my way, because I couldn’t. Ben and I have poured our talent, drive, and hearts into developing this show. Through tons of trial and error, feedback from the TFTB boys, and our momentum that frankly can’t be stopped at this point, I feel Ben and I have created something that hopefully resonates with people:
Talking sports and feeling nostalgic while having a drink with a friend.
Hope you guys get at least a tiny bit of enjoyment out of it. If at least one person out there enjoys it, that’s all it’ll take for me. Cheers.