Growing up as a MetroStars fan, Brian Donaghy always asked for the same present: a MetroStars jersey. From that point on the tradition continued every year and for his birthday, he always asked for the same gift. As he accumulated jerseys, his passion for the club led him to become a jersey collector, gathering all the possible MetroStars and Red Bulls jerseys he could own. Some he got as gifts, others he got from auctions, but during this quarantine he got his hands on a 2001 NASL Throwback jersey, which was made possible by our very own Steve Jolley.
“Yeah, you know, I kind of just in passing saw the pictures that he included on his Twitter account, and I guess he attached Red Bulls,” said Jolley. “It was pretty, to say that I was impressed is probably an understatement, I didn't know that there were many people that were that big of collectors of MetroStars/Red Bulls gear.”
Through his passion of collecting MetroStars/Red Bulls jerseys, Donaghy has experienced many memorable moments. Among them a visit to Red Bull Arena, where he received a red jersey, signed by many of the players. He has that one framed. Another jersey he received as a gift was a Hispanic Heritage Night jersey, which Connor Lade happened to have a spare one. After seeing Brian’s tweet, asking if someone could help him find that specific Hispanic Heritage Night jersey, Lade reached out to him and mailed it to him.
“And then obviously this time around with this jersey,” Donaghy began to describe the meaning behind Jolley’s gift. “This 2001 NASL Throwback jersey that he'd sent over, that's something I never thought I would have got. It was a one time worn. I was in college, so I couldn’t be in those auctions. When he said, ‘Hey, I might have one!’ I was like for him to even reach out was amazing, and then to actually find it and send me the pictures and send it out to me. That's probably my favorite jersey now.”
But Jolley decided to add more to the exchange. He asked Donaghy to make a donation to a charity of his choice once he received the jersey.
“I was just going to send it to him, but then, you know if I could back it up just a little bit in terms of that specific day, I had a pretty tough day that Wednesday at work, and it was kind of one of those days where you're just kind of little overwhelmed with a list of a couple things and everything that was happening,” said Jolley. “If anything, I probably owe a debt of gratitude to a guy like Brian more so than anything that I could come up with just because you know, the idea that he was so passionate about kind of getting everything together, and so passionate about supporting not only the MetroStars from Day 1, but also Red Bulls and Major League Soccer. It kind of just made me think about, you know, how can I help this guy kind of get where he's going.
“But I also wanted to make sure that it was personal for him, and that, you know, that donation wherever he chose was going to directly kind of impact him and try to just put some good vibes out there. Fortunately, it just kind of worked out in that respect; he supported Feeding America, which I think is a great cause, and he was able to get a jersey that he'd kind of wish for. Everything kind of came together in a very positive and constructive way and quite frankly, it was a way that kind of brought probably more joy to me then than probably him because I definitely needed it because I was a little, as I say, down in the dumps that day, and it definitely changed my outlook and attitude towards, quite frankly, people, and in everything that's been happening to all of us over the last month or two.”
For Donaghy, the opportunity to give to charity was the right thing to do during these difficult times.
“To me that was something that was amazing, and something that really felt great to do because, you know, the amount of money I would have spent on this jersey regardless of whoever presented it to me would have been incredible,” said Donaghy. “This is definitely the time where most charities need a lot of money to just keep businesses and families surviving all this. So I made a donation to Feeding America, which just so happened when I was reading his message and offer to me, there was a commercial line for Feeding America, and how much that they need right now with everything going on in the world. So, I gladly made a donation to Feeding America.”
One of the many things Donaghy appreciates about the club is the social interaction that there is, and the possibility to meet the players and talk to them personally.
“I think that's one of the things that I've really enjoyed with the Red Bulls is just how much social interaction there is, and not just from you guys in the communications department, but with the players themselves,” he said. “I mean, like I said, last year, Connor reached out to me, this year, Steve reached out to me, and I think it's just really special. It really means a lot.
“I mean, over the course of the history of the team, there's been 352 players between MetroStars and the Red Bulls, and it's pretty special that a lot of those guys have no problems whatsoever, reaching out to the to the fans and talking to them personally, which is something really special.”