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Issue Date: October 2012

Champion Trip

Want to raise the stakes in your fantasy football league? Chesterland native Dave Mitri has the answer.
Mike Crissman

The running back frozen in action atop the average fantasy football trophy rarely represents the "athlete" who won it. Dave Mitri's handcrafted trophies, on the other hand, are a much more accurate depiction of a franchise fueled by wings and beer.

Take the Armchair Quarterback, for example: a cast-resin couch potato chilling on a La-Z-Boy. There's also the Throwback trophy: a wannabe Desmond Howard imitating the Heisman pose while clutching a six-pack in one arm and pointing a TV remote with the other. Mitri runs his trophy business out of Brooklyn, N.Y., but it all started in his parents' garage in Chesterland, Ohio, back in 1993. It was there that he sculpted the first Armchair Quarterback, not to make money, but to raise the stakes in his own fantasy football league.

"I thought it'd be funny to have a trophy for my league," Mitri says. "Plus I knew I'd get my name on it since I won it the first year."

Mounted on a solid-oak base and adorned with engraving plates that list the names of each year's winner, the trophy has since become a source of pride and trash talking in Mitri's league.

His customers report the same. "It changes everything," he says.

Mitri sold his first few trophies in 1994 in the Muni Lot before Browns home games. Now, he sells between 300 and 400 a year through his website. He has also added trophies for other sports, but 90 percent of his sales still come from football.

"It connects with guys," he says. "If they're looking for a trophy to represent their league, the majority of the things out there are your standard peewee football trophies or a knockoff of the Lombardi Trophy. ... That doesn't really embody fantasy football. Fantasy football is a guy sitting in a recliner with his beer and a remote controller watching football all day."

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