It wasn’t anything Brendan Dougherty planned. These days, who plans anything?
Dougherty, who just finished his ninth-grade year at St. Joseph’s Prep, would look at cartoons as a little guy, drawing characters as he watched, shifting in later years to superheroes, then athletes, as he became a proper Philly sports fan.
Back in March, Dougherty, at his home in Havertown, got out his pencils and drew Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. It dawned on Dougherty that Jackson wore No. 8, and this was the eighth day of Dougherty’s personal quarantine.
What about drawing an athlete a day, using his uniform number to signify the day?
“I thought it was this thing I could do," Dougherty said of this mission born of boredom. First, Dougherty went back and drew numbers 0 through 7 — Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson and Kawhi Leonard, hitting Bryce Harper for No. 3 — then it was a drawing a day.
“I pretty much do it on the day,’’ Dougherty said, so the 11th day meant drawing Carson Wentz, and soon enough it was Joel Embiid day, No. 21.
Starting out, Dougherty said, he thought this might continue into the 50s. Except Thursday was Day 73, which meant drawing Tyler Toffoli of the Vancouver Canucks. Dougherty tries to switch up his sports and his teams, using Basketball-reference.com, Baseball-reference.com, and other web sites to check for numbers, then comparing stats.
“I’ll look up the best player for each number sometimes,’’ Dougherty said over the phone this week.
He has drawn only active athletes and broke that rule only once, on Day 24, when a Kobe Bryant tribute seemed appropriate.
“I just thought that would be special,’’ Dougherty said. “He went to Lower Merion, which is 15 minutes from my house. That could be an exception.”
He did the selecting, often on the day of. But his family had a couple of thoughts.
“We instituted a no-Cowboys rule,’’ said Brendan’s father, Brendan Sr.
Generally, you won’t see N.Y. Giants either, except Brendan broke that on Day 26 for Saquon Barkley, since he likes Barkley, and his cousin knew him a little at Penn State.
Occasionally, he has tough choices, like on Day 22, when he went with Christian Yelich but could have gone with Juan Soto or Christian McCaffrey or Clayton Kershaw.
Day 62 was an easy one, since Dougherty once met Eagles center Jason Kelce wandering around the St. Denis Church fair.
His plan is to take this to 99, even if his quarantine ends before then. He’s got possible numbers all the way. The drawings take a couple of hours.
“Nothing really special,’’ Dougherty said of his technique. “I really only use pencils. I take more pride in the color. When I can add colors and mix the colors together, that’s when I really enjoy the drawings, when I make them pop a little through the colors.”
He’s gotten attention for his drawing once before, when he won a Sixers contest and his drawing was turned into a mural.
He’s also a Mummer (alto sax for the Fralinger String Band); has been known to be called on stage to sing a Springsteen tune, “Thunder Road” or “Hungry Heart,” at the Springfield in Sea Isle, where his mother and grandfather worked for years. He also came in third last year in the Philadelphia Catholic League freshman cross-country championships.
Other than drawing, quarantining has meant running and “playing a lot of video games. Watching a lot of TV.”
If you want to see the whole collection, Dougherty has them on his Twitter feed, @BrendanDoughe10. And if he ever has to start the clock again?
“I’ve thought of a couple of ideas, maybe all-time Philadelphia athletes,’’ Dougherty said.