To football fans watching TV , the ball, helmet, face masks, jersey, shoulder pads, pants and shoes are the only accessories required for the game. The fact is that’s the only football equipment TV or stadium fans are shown. In reality though, as accessories managers will confirm, there’s a lot to gear than what meets the eye. When you want to protect a very expensive asset – a professional player – from being damaged after being hit by a 230-pound opposing team member, you depend on a lot more football equipment. Pro football equipment runs the entire spectrum of items – from defensive head accessories, to under pads and shoe bottoms. Football equipment is mainly built to safeguard individual players during the extreme contact sport. While TV viewers see the “visible” aspect of gear, there’s a lot more accessories that’s “hidden” from plain sight.
Take for example the hardly seen Cleats, worn on the undersides of a players shoes to give him traction on the turf. And what about equipment like chemical hand warmers, or heated benches that players use to sit on. These articles are by no means less important accessories, than the items we see players wear on TV. For most of us, a piece of accessories worn by one player may look the same as that used by another player. For example, a glove is a glove, is a glove – what’s the big deal. However professional football equipment managers see things differently. Subtle differences in accessories are called for, depending on the players’ position on the team. Receivers, who handle the ball more during a game, use sticky, rubber palmed tact gloves. Linemen prefer thicker padded gloves, so they have extra protection for their fingers and hands. And during a fast paced game, the last thing that’s on a fans mind is the shoe that your favourite players is wearing.
Yet shoes, especially the bottoms, are a very important part of the football equipment array. So crucial are shoes to the accessories list, that an NFL team may consume 2,500 pairs per season! The ideal accessories will be light wear, and will be suited to the conditions of the turf and the weather. Shoe soles are a prime example of this. On an Astroturf field, for dry conditions players prefer lighter bottomed shoes. But like the game plan, accessories needs change for damper or wetter conditions, which call for the use of thick soled shoes.
But with so many high-profile head injuries of late, the most important of all accessories is probably the football helmet. And the football equipment manager must ensure that the helmet – including the Shell, Face mask, Jaw Pads, Air bladder, mouth guard and chin strap – are a perfect fit for each player. Most teams will use significantly more football equipment than those we have touched upon so far. There are Knee pads, Hip pads, Thigh pads, Shoulder pads, rib-protecting equipment, flak jackets and on, and on the list goes. And since a team has a roster of 53 players, that brings a whole lot of complexity to the football equipment managers job.