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Annapolis Native, Ravens Fan TPindell A YouTube Sensation

October 11, 2018
Tpindell is about to reach 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube.  

"It's weird. When I was at 1,000, I was like, 'Man, I just want to get 10,000, I just want to get 25,000. Then I hit 100,000," creator Troy Pindell told PressBox. "The funny thing about it is I hit 100,000 and it took me like two and a half, three years. But then I hit a million in a year. Once you kinda get rolling and you're consistent, it will just roll, roll, roll. So it's no 'I made it' type of feeling. It's like, 'Let's keep grinding.'" 

For context purposes, there are only 222 comedy channels on YouTube with more subscribers than Pindell's 2,388,730 as of Oct. 11. And those pages aren't necessarily personal channels. They include channels for popular television shows like "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" or collective channels like cable network Comedy Central. In fact, Pindell is only a few thousand subscribers away from overtaking the channels for the NBC show "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and the Will Ferrell website/production company "Funny Or Die." 

Pindell's story is pretty basic. You know, just your average Baltimore-born 34-year-old who went from growing up in Annapolis, Md., to playing college football at Florida Atlantic to abandoning a career as a teacher because he was making more money online than his bosses were. He's now being spotted in public by superstars like Michael B. Jordan and being recognized across the globe as a Baltimore Ravens super-fan. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times.

Where to start? 

"I was born at Johns Hopkins and then I was actually raised in Annapolis," Pindell said. "Went there, played all the sports -- little league football, running around like crazy, Annapolis High School. And then my father had already moved down to Florida, so I came to live with him my sophomore year of high school."

Why did he end up moving? He was already proving himself to be perhaps a bit too much of an entertainer. 

"That was based on probably a little more of me being too much to handle for my mom," Pindell said. "'Let's ship you down with your dad and he'll straighten you up.'

"I went to Annapolis High School my freshman year, and then I moved to Florida to live with my dad. I finished high school down here. I'm the oldest of five, so all of my sisters and brothers still live in Maryland and my mom."

Football became a major part of the picture for Pindell -- he was a defensive back -- but his opportunities were nearly taken away from him. 

"It was hard for me because my senior year [of high school] I dislocated and cracked my shoulder, so I played three games," Pindell said. "So I'm like, 'Man, I'm not going to be able to play anywhere.' It was so promising -- from leading the team in high school in interceptions to the first two games in my senior year I had three interceptions, and then I dislocated my shoulder the third week.

"I walked on and I played at FAU. I earned a scholarship [and thought], 'Well that's awesome, I'm not going to have to pay for school.'"

It was football legend (and former Baltimore Colts head coach) Howard Schnellenberger who gave Pindell the opportunity at Florida Atlantic. Sadly, the 84-year-old's memory has slipped to a point where he couldn't remember any specific stories about his former player when reached by PressBox. But he was so excited to learn about Pindell's success off the field that he asked to arrange a conversation with his one-time pupil.

Schnellenberger was once very complimentary of Pindell's rise from walk-on to eventual starter. Pindell played at FAU from 2002-2006.

Even as Pindell was finding success on the football field, he was starting to think about a future away from it. 

"My junior year, I led the team in interceptions and I wasn't even starting," Pindell said. "And that's when I had like 22 of the 32 NFL teams come watch me practice or come to a game. I was being scouted. So then I did the whole camp thing, trying out and the whole Pro Day, etc. Nothing worked out in the NFL, and then I went up to the [Canadian Football League] and played for the Edmonton Eskimos. 

"So I spent probably like two weeks there and then I got cut in camp. I got back home and I was always like a class clown, I didn't have any student-athlete peers around me now, so how can I make people laugh or do something like that? So I just started uploading content."

At the time, the dream of being a "YouTube star" was just that. Making money wasn't a reality. In 2010, Pindell was creating content and working as a substitute teacher in Florida to try to make ends meet. But winning a contest called "NextUp" provided him the opportunity to get better equipment for his videos, including professional lighting. From there, things took off. 

"I started doing it, I started getting paid," Pindell said. "I'm like 'OK, this is nice. Boom, I can pay a cell phone bill. I can pay a light bill. I can pay my utilities. Oh, this pays for my rent now.' And then my last year of having a regular job, I was working for the school board as a substitute teacher probably making like 12, 13 bucks an hour. So I'm like getting paid the least on campus. But in actuality, YouTube was paying me as much as the assistant principal. So I'm like 'OK, I think it might be time to go, guys.'"

Pindell went "full-time" online and the Tpindell channel took off in 2014, with hilarious videos about gaming, culture and much more. Family members and friends who once complained about him spamming their social media walls by sharing his videos and told him to use his degree to get "a real job" were now bragging to their friends about how they knew the web sensation. 

In 2017, he attended the Art Basel event in Miami where Hollywood star Michael B. Jordan recognized him from a parody video of the movie "Creed" he had done that had found popularity. Other celebrities have shared his content, as well.

But as success came, Pindell found himself wanting to make his connection to his home a part of his public persona. 

"I'm always showing love, I have Annapolis shirts, I still have the same Maryland phone number, I go home three or four times a year," Pindell said. "I love crab cakes, I love football, I love seafood. That's still home more than anything to me. Sometimes people are like, 'Oh you've been in Florida for over 10, 15 years, you're now a Floridian.' I'm like, 'Yeah, right.' If I was home and financially where I am right now, I'd have Ravens season tickets."

Pindell made his fandom even more public this season, starting a series of "Ravens fans react to" videos after games. It's a pretty self-explanatory concept, as Pindell films himself reacting in over-the-top ways to major moments in games. The idea was conceived after fellow creators (and friends/peers of Pindell's) had done similar videos for other teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars. It was natural for the former football player and major football fan. 

"I love football because I came up playing football since I was 6, 7 years old. And I love the Ravens. That like determined how great or bad my Sunday's gonna be. If we win, like, let's go out and get mimosas and do something fun. If it's a loss I'm like, 'Hey man, I'm not talking to anybody.' That's just what it is."

Pindell admits he hopes the videos catch on with the team, believing it will be inevitable that players will see the video series in part because of relationships he has with other pro athletes like Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer.

"We were just on a yacht for Fourth of July weekend", Pindell said. "I felt bad when [the Ravens] beat them like that [in Week 1]. I'm like, 'Damn, I know he sees this, I know he follows me on Instagram.'"

So what's next for a popular football player turned YouTube star? Does he hope to use the platform to launch a career in TV or movies? Or, in 2018, is YouTube just the best place for entertainers like Pindell to perform, given the ability to be their own writers, directors, producers and more?

"I get that question all the time," Pindell said. "Even my family and friends are like 'Yo, this is dope what you're doing. You have a lot of views, especially on YouTube, but when are you going to do like TV, film?' And that's always been like a goal and a dream, and I think if it happens that would be awesome."

That doesn't mean he's leaving his web platform any time soon.

"YouTube's been like my baby and it could even act as like a stepping stone at one point," Pindell said. "But at the same time, it's really consistent for me. Some people have shows, shows come and go. They get canceled. Some people have gigs, like you're on a season of this -- but it ends. You can go to auditions for two years and not have something. So it's more like a consistent thing for me. And it's a way to reach people around the world, because you never know who's watching."

Photo Credit: Courtesy of TPindell