Lazy man’s Heisman: Gowanus sculptor molds fantasy sports trophies

Dave Mitri makes trophies that spoof fantasy football’s less-than-fit players.
Photo by Stefano Giovaninni

The world’s most talented armchair quarterbacks are thanking a Gowanus sculptor for creating a real-life reward for fantasy sports.

Dave Mitri, founder of Fantasy Trophies, has carved a niche crafting bronze hardware for fantasy sports aficionados that depict a beer-bellied man making the classic “Heisman” pose — only he’s extending a remote control instead of a stiff arm.

The handmade statues spoof stereotypes about die-hard sports fans who toil over make-believe rosters based on stats from real athletes.

Mitri said his rendition of a less-than svelte male form is a nod to the fact that the sports-centered hobby involves zero physical activity.

“It pokes some fun,” said the sculptor, who creates the trophies in a studio on 18th Street near Third Avenue. “It connects with guy’s guys.”

Mitri started molding the trophies using a clay-base and bronze paint in his parents’ garage in Ohio in the early 1990s, back when he and his pre-internet buddies scoured newspapers for stats so they could stay up-to-date in their fantasy leagues.

He soon came up with a signature trophy — a football helmet-clad man seated in a La-Z-Boy that he calls “the armchair goon” — using his cousin, Johnny, as a sketch model, he said.

Other designs followed and as the once-obscure pastime became more popular, Mitri went from selling about 20 trophies per year to about 300, ranging in price from $109 to $399.

Mitri makes no female trophies because he hasn’t gotten enough requests — but he offers them for fantasy sports stars who favor football, hockey, baseball, basketball, and racing.

He even has a “loser trophy” for players who place last in their fantasy league, featuring a toilet and crushed beer cans.

“[The game] is about spending time with friends but it’s also competitive,” he said. “So this adds to the trash-talking spirit.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

More from Around New York