Gators Wire assistant editor Tyler Nettuno recently spoke with former Florida tight end Ben Troupe in an interview that covered a wide range of topics, including his upcoming book, the evolution of the tight end position and the 2021 Gators squad. Here’s the first segment from that interview.
Ben Troupe, who played for the Gators from 2000-03 and professionally with the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, co-wrote an autobiography that releases on Sept. 21. We talked to Troupe to discuss the book and the process of writing it.
TYLER NETTUNO: So, you’ve got a new book coming out next month, Uncommon and Unfinished: The Ben Troupe Story. Can you talk about what inspired you to write this and without giving too much away, what people can expect to find when they read it?
BEN TROUPE: Well, long time coming. I met B.J. (Bennett) who co-wrote it with me maybe say around, like, 2008-2009. And, you know, we’re just talking, you know, and the notion of a book will just come up. And, we were much younger then, and it’s not really something that we really had time to do. And then you fast forward to working with ESPN Radio with BJ Bennett again, and Kevin Thomas, the pandemic gave us a chance to really finally do it. Like, look, man, we got a lot of a lot more free time, a lot more time to do it.
So we did it. Me and BJ, you know, he went to my hometown, Swainsboro, and Augusta, Georgia, where I went to high school, got to talk to some people that knew me, got to talk to my family. And him being around me every day because we work together, he told me he had to become me to write the book, which that’s pretty unique to be able to tell it from that perspective.
But I think when I’m getting older, and the type of things I want to do, other people call it bucket lists, I call checklists. It was a checklist of mine to be able to put my thoughts, you know, my life out there. And most people always think they know you based on what they know you from. And this is my way to kind of shape the narrative and kind of tell my story from my point of view. And hopefully, like, the people that get the book will realize, I always say this, people know me as Ben, they’ll get a chance to know Benjamin.
TN: Even as a professional writer myself, the idea of trying to write a book just seems like a very daunting thing. Were there things that surprised you about the process or things you learned?
BT: Absolutely. The writing of the book is the therapeutic part, because you’re getting your thoughts on paper, and it’s almost like, “Okay,
I’m talking about this, I’ve addressed this, I can move on.” You get to editing a book, like a fine-toothed comb, every single thing from commas, what should be capitalized, what shouldn’t be capitalized, what kind of context are you using this in, the most minute small thing. You got to make sure you know people’s names are spelled right. It’s like, it’s not the writing part. The editing felt like you wrote the book twice.
But I think throughout the editing process, you gain an appreciation because I read my book 1,000 times, right? But every time I’m reading it, and even though I know what the words say they mean something different. Because I will say this, you’re gonna go back and forth with what you want to put out there, but me and B.J. wrote it from a place of vulnerability, because I may never get another book. I hope I put out a bunch of books.
But if this is my only book, I want to make sure I’m telling my truth, I’m telling the truth. I’m not sensationalizing anything, I’m not throwing anybody under the bus. I’m really saying thank you, man, to the people, places and things that not just allowed me to be who I was back then but who I am now. So it’s my chance to kind of cheer for the people and celebrate the people who always cheered and celebrating me.
NEXT: This isn’t Troupe’s only book
TN: This isn’t the first book you’ve worked on, right? You also worked on a children’s book during COVID-19?
BT: Yeah I actually did a book called Judee and Jon’s Mask with a lady by the name of Meco Isadore. We co-wrote it together. She approached me about doing a children’s book, like a year and a half ago, and she had a character named Judy. And she told me “I want to have a guy character,” I don’t know, she’s trying to get me to do it, I’m just listening to an idea and she said “Your dad’s named John, right?” And I said, “Yeah my dad’s named John” and she said “You ever thought about having a character named Jon? We’ll just take the H out…” And True Vine Publishing is what we went through.
And what was good about that was, writing a children’s book, you get your rhyme scheme together, get your illustrator, and then you get your publisher. And that was a way more easy process than this, but… even though having a book book is different than a children’s book, I kind of got to see how the process went.
The editor at True Vine Publishing, me and him sort of developed a relationship. I don’t know how it goes when you’ve got “world-renowned” book publishing companies, like Michelle Obama’s books, I didn’t get my book published through them. But I didn’t want to, I wanted to get the full process. (The editor) told me, “Trust me with your book, I’m not gonna rip your book up. I’m not gonna make it sound like I think it wants to sound, you know what you want to say. I just ask you why you’re saying certain things.” And in the process, man, I mean, obviously, my book is on my website, BenTroupe84.com. But my book is at Target, it’s at Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, it’s at Kindle, it’s at Google.
And that’s all True Vine. That’s what they did for me. And I asked him, I said, “Dude, do everybody’s books go to Target?” He goes “Absolutely not.” He says they gotta want to purchase your books. It’s a truly humbling experience. Because the kid in me, I get my children’s books. And now, the adult in me obviously, I get to kind of have two sides of the coin.
NEXT: Official release date
TN: When does the book officially release?
BT: September 21. It will be officially released Sept. 21. That’s 20 days after my freaking birthday, if it released on Sept. 1, I would think somebody was playing a joke on me. But it’s humbling man, you being a writer, and that’s another thing too.
B.J. Bennett is a writer. B.J.’s the editor at SouthernPigskin.com. So he writes every day. And that’s a great part of it. A lot of things I bypassed, I didn’t have to worry about like finding a ghostwriter. B.J. knows me so he kind of knows how I talk, how I sound, my mannerisms, my behaviorisms. So he had to speak for me, and what I liked about that was I saved a lot of time, money and frustration because my best friend got to write the book for me, and what people don’t know is they say do you want to do three things in his life.
He said, “Man, I want to get married.” He’s married. He said “I want to have children.” He has children. And he said “I want to write a book,” now I thought he had already written a book and he said “Nope, this is the first book I’ve written.” So I don’t know, man. It’s like a journey for both of us, we are attached forever now.
Make no mistake about it, we almost killed each other with this book. Because it’s a lot I mean, B.J. would send me a chapter, B.J. doesn’t go to sleep man… We cover the SoCon, the SEC, the ACC and the Sun Belt. So he had to write stories all the time. So he’ll say “Hey, man, I’m about to send you the draft of chapter 9. And it’d be two o’clock in the morning and I was like “What the heck, man, I’m sleeping.” B.J. helped me really appreciate this process because of how serious he took it, he didn’t play with it because I realized this is both of our baby, man. We put it out for the world, but I’m super-duper proud of it.
There are going to be teammates, coaches that have no clue they’re part of my story. That’s why I’m looking forward for people to read it because they think “Oh, it’s all about you, Ben.” Yeah, but it’s all about the people, the places, the things, the circumstances. It’s like a Quentin Tarantino film, man, you really don’t know, man. It’s like the very first line in the book will let you know that this ain’t what I thought it was going to be. It ain’t about just football, it is but it isn’t.
Hey, man, my life is crazy. I wouldn’t change it. But to know that I had five grandparents, I had a great grandmother, two grandmothers and grandfathers and I knew them all. I’m writing this for them. Like my grandparents in their wildest dreams couldn’t do the stuff I did, go to college, go pro, meet Steve Spurrier, Ron Zook, man, please.
So this is me just riding this wave, saying, “Look, I’m doing this half for me and the other half for the people that I’m attached to whether we former teammates, or friends, family,” and I said the only thing that’s different about my story is that I’m willing to tell it, that’s it. Nothing special about it outside of the fact that I’m willing to be vulnerable, put myself out there and hopefully, one day it may inspire you to get out there and write your book, whatever it is.
My friend wrote a book about making freakin’ brownies and it almost became a best seller, I’m like “Baking freakin’ brownies?” and he was like “I love brownies.” And he wrote a book about it and people were like, dude. Never ever think that your story isn’t captivating to the audience.