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Father’s Day is a very special day here at Blenders HQ. And company founder, Chase Fisher, appreciates the legacy a father can hand down more than most.
In 1999’s Any Given Sunday, Tony D’Amato, played by the venerable Al Pacino, gives what’s now one of the most famous speeches in the sports film pantheon. With one of the biggest games of their lives and a playoff berth on the line, the aging coach addresses a squad decimated by injuries and wracked by bad blood and broken trust. His speech—a rousing, inspirational monologue seemingly out of nowhere—implores his players to remember that life, like football, is “a game of inches.”
Pacino’s impassioned plea is inspirational, sure, but it’s also a warning: Even seemingly insignificant moments matter. And the choices we make in those moments, especially when you feel at your lowest, are what define our lives. Inch-by-inch, play-by-play… you “heal or you crumble.” You make a conscious decision to either pick yourself up or put yourself down.
At Blenders, we’ve always professed that life comes down to how you play it; you can either live in forward motion or look back and settle for less. There’s a reason for that mantra—and it comes from the top.
Just before Any Given Sunday’s release came Jerry Maguire. It featured Tom Cruise as a cocky yet idealistic sports agent (Maguire) that falls on one hell of a rough time. In the span of what seems a moment—or an inch—Maguire loses both his livelihood and his fiancée. It’s a total upheaval of fortune.
Sitting in a California theater in December 1996 watching Maguire’s onscreen descent was Haig, a man working through his own upheaval. His State Street Santa Barbara retail store, “Twist N’ Shout,” was a flop. The “lip-synch to a song and make a music clip” customer concept was ahead of its time—the TikTok generation arrived two decades too late for Haig. And with the loss of his business, he also lost his house and, ultimately, his wife.
Mornings for Haig were spent selling sports collectibles. Nights were spent pushing cremation services. The in-between was his escape—going to the movies and raising his two young children.
Plot twist you totally saw coming: One of those children would become Blenders’s own founder, Chase. (Oliver Stone or Cameron Crowe so would have worked in that “twist" better than this writer.)
Sitting in that theater on that late December day, still working through his own life’s recent turmoil, Haig Fisher surely saw something of himself in crestfallen Cruise’s onscreen struggle. But while Jerry Maguire resonated thematically, its impact would prove to be material, too.
Fast forward, well, a few minutes. There’s only one player willing to roll with Maguire as a client after Jerry leaves his agency—brash and bombastic Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). But it’s not before Tidwell puts Maguire through the ringer, demanding “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”
Struck by the undeniable, simple appeal of the phrase, Haig sprinted out of the theater to the local Sears, copped a pack of white tees, and had Kinko’s print “Show Me The Money” smack-dab on the front of each. It was a 4th-down conversion attempt, the kind you pull when you think you’ve caught the defense napping. Haig knew there would be others that saw the phrase’s trademark appeal but felt he could beat them to the punch.
He was right. There were 26 other applicants who filed for a similar clothing trademark, including TriStar Pictures, the Hollywood studio behind the film. But Fisher was first.
Over the coming months, TriStar would attempt to obtain the trademark rights, but Haig pulled his best Rod Tidwell impression. Finally, they “showed him the money,” and with it, he purchased the Santa Barbara house he calls home to this day. The following year, he established Trademarks, Etc., parlaying his movie house epiphany into a lucrative trademark career that continues to thrive.
Talk about an epic comeback.
“One half-a-step too late or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One half-second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch.”
During his speech in Any Given Sunday, Pacino’s Tony D’Amato reflects on his life’s mistakes. He’s pissed away his money; pulled away from anyone who’s ever loved him. And like the character of Jerry Maguire—and Chase's father, Haig—he’s come to understand that you tend to learn the most about life when you start losing stuff.
While many of us have taken something away from Jerry Maguire and Any Given Sunday in the years since their release, Chase hasn’t needed to lean on the characters portrayed by Cruise and Pacino. He’s only had to look to his own father for inspiration, and the real-life game of inches he’s played—and won.
Chase, like his dad on that seminal day in ‘96, has vowed to never be that “half-second too slow.” That ethic, that conviction to put your head down and make things happen, is baked right into the DNA of Blenders. It’s what “living life in forward motion” is all about. It’s what it’s always been about.
Hard work. Determination. Perseverance. Yeah, Chase never needed to learn that from a movie.
He learned it from the best.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone.
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