Where are the sports T-shirts in Tenn.?
GATLINBURG, Tenn. -- Apparently, beyond the irresistible attraction to that one-of-a-kind color orange, the omnipresence of Pat Summitt, the early Heisman hype about Eric Berry, the countless Lane Kiffin jokes, and the arguments about whether Vince Young should be the Titans' starting QB, Tennessee is also the T-shirt capital of America. Spend a couple of days in a couple of different towns, and you will see some of the greatest (i.e., funniest, cruelest, cleverest, etc.) sayings and images on cotton.
Shirts like the one with the image of Abe Lincoln (who was born in the neighboring state of Kentucky) with a baseball cap on, twisted to the side, which reads "Ain't Nobody Dope As Me," or the iconic orange, black and white "01" General Lee shirt, or the classic "D.A.D.D.: Dads Against Daughters Dating," or my personal favorite: "Welcome To The Dark Side We Have Cookies!"
But sports-themed T's seemed virtually extinct. No Kobe Bryant or Tiger Woods or Tony Romo jokes on shirts, no cartooned images of Jeff Fisher or Bruce Pearl hanging from the racks, no "Death to Michael Vick" or "Free Michael Vick" shirts on sale anywhere -- not even a Brock Lesnar T on display in a store window. I was expecting to see at least one Baseball Steroid Era Evolution logo shirt like the one I got from CafePress, or the "Witness: LeB***h" one I copped in Harlem a couple of weeks ago.
With sports being such big business, it seemed like the T-shirt capital would be on top of this. You'd think, with everything going on in sports, people would eat up shirts with images and sayings about Tom Brady and Albert Pujols just as much if not more than they would shirts featuring Stewie or someone from "Twilight." That's when the ideas inside my head started running wild.
I thought of cool ones: A T-shirt that features "Don't Call It A Comeback" done in Patriots blue with the No. 12 on the back. And one in San Diego powder blue with the No. 56 on the back.
I thought of funny ones: "Don't Call Me, I'll Call You" in quotes, with "Favre" underneath.
I thought of witty ones: Ichiro's face on the front, with the words: "Chicks Dig The Singles" on the back; "Seniors Do It Better" on the front with the names Ibanez, Tejada and Rivera underneath; "Ron-Ron = Chip-Chip" or "Welcome To The Dark Side We Have Ron Artest"; and my other (imaginary) personal favorite: "Support Strip Clubs: Sign Pacman Jones."
I thought up some classics: "I Dunked On LeBron And All I Got Was This Stinkin' T-Shirt"; a Dallas Cowboys star flushed to the right, with "New Team. New Stadium. Same Results." along the side; one done in Oklahoma Sooners crimson that reads "You Can't Stoop To Our Level."
I thought of deep ones: "It Happens In 3's: Arguello, Gatti, Forrest"; a "9" in Titans blue on a simple white T-shirt, for Steve McNair.
I thought of not-so-nice ones: Front: "104, 103, 102, 101 and still counting," and back: "A-Rod, Manny, Papi, Sosa "; In Run-DMC logo style: "R.I.P. | A.I."
I thought of ones that would sell: "07.01.2010: LeBron's Last Day In Cleveland"; "I'm The Other Manning"; "WWGD: What Would Goodell Do?"; "NCAA Stimulus Package: Calipari" and/or "NCAA Stimulus Package: Meyer"; "Shaq: Rated 'R' for Ringer."
Or one that I know has to be in existence: "In Tebow We Trust."
I searched. Came up empty.
I wish, in my four days spent traveling between Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Knoxville -- when I saw more T-shirts than I ever have in any four-day period in my life -- I would have found one, just one, graphically and verbally creative sports-related T that I could have purchased and left happy with -- a strong addition to my collection of T-shirts that has already reached obsessive proportions.
Instead I left Tennessee thinking two things: (1) Why hasn't anyone thought of these before? and (2) I've got a new retirement plan.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.