The Bench Press

I'm back riding the pine for another edition of Bench Press. My first article hit the top of the charts by getting scooped by our national site. I have nowhere to go but down, and my journey into irrelevance begins today.

I love being a Tennessee fan. One of the things I love most about being a Vol fan is our football jerseys. I honestly feel like they are the best in sports - unique, distinct and intimidating.

Ironically, the thing I dislike the most about the Vols is our fan apparel. IT IS BEYOND AWFUL. I would wear Tennessee gear every day but my self-esteem cannot take the constant ridicule that comes with wearing some of that atrocious nonsense.

Let's now take a look at some of the clothing options that we, as fans, are given. Keep in mind all of the following items are readily available for purchase somewhere in the Knox County area.

Exhibit A.

Item: Shamrock Tennessee T-Shirt

Why it sucks: Well for starters, the damn shirt is green. Second, why in the name of Neyland do we have a shamrock on the shirt?

Explanation for how it came into existence: The only "logical" explanation I can think of is that a Notre Dame fan was groomed from birth to infiltrate the Tennessee product development department. He then manipulated several high ranking apparel designers using ancient Irish Pagan witchcraft.

Exhibit B.

Item: Short-sleeve photo montage button up.

Why it sucks: I can't believe I actually have to verbalize why this shirt is awful but I will do it anyway. If this was some sort of gag gift, I might get what the designer (Ray Charles?) was going for, but sadly it isn't. What we have here is some attempt to put famous Tennessee football scenes down on fabric, a worse idea than the Hail Mary before the half of the 2004 Notre Dame game.

Explanation for how it came into existence: This one will be tough but I'll give it my best shot. A sales team reaches out for help to inject life into a sagging product line. They hire a post-modern fashion designer from Western Europe. The designer is currently drawing inspiration from the Cubist art period.

He tells the production team at Tennessee that he demands a room at the top of Ayers Hall stocked with old game programs, scissors, a sewing machine, and ABBA records. He emerges four days later and 10 pounds lighter and proclaims this shirt "my masterpiece."

Exhibit C.

Item: Zephyr Hat with Angry Smokey logo

Why it sucks: Nothing says "I drove my house to the game" quite like a rabid dog emblazoned on your ball cap. The angry Smokey logo is the Cadillac of horrendous University of Tennessee apparel. Around the turn of the century, this emblem just sort of started appearing on shirts and hats.

It really became popular although no one I have talked to like them. It is like that pop song that gets played 20,000 times a day on the radio but everyone, including the deejays, hates it.

How it came into existence: In the year 2000 Chad Honeycutt, a former Vol Mascot, had just graduated. He got an entry level job in the promotions and marketing department. Chad, like any new employee, was eager to please his new boss. Chad had tons of ideas for T-shirt designs and game day marketing.

The only problem was that Chad felt that Tennessee needed to shift the focus off the football team and on to the mascot because "that is what people came to see." His boss, of course, did not agree with this. Chad was devastated and swore his revenge. He hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on higher-ups at the University. His plan worked beautifully.

The Peyton Manning mooning incident and the presidential scandals at the start of the decade were just some of the few pieces of dirt Chad brought to the surface. To silence Chad, university officials made him an offer: A Smokey clothing line and a pre-game cheer. (Remember the "Smokey is on the prowl" chant?") Fortunately, even Chad thought the cheer was awful, and he agreed to discontinue it.

I apologize in advance if you own any of the aforementioned items. We fans just want to show off our Vol pride and these are the options we are stuck with. Is there a correlation between the decline in Tennessee football and the decline in our fan apparel? We may never know.

What I challenge you to do is write a congressman, write a senator, call up a Haslam or petition Oprah to do something. If she can get Mo'nique an Oscar, she can surely get us Tennessee fans some quality fan attire.

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