View Full Version : Uniwatch interviews Bengals Equipment MGR

11-30-2007, 01:18 PM
Thought this to be interesting.

uniwatchblog.com (http://www.uniwatchblog.com)

Uni Watch Profiles: Rob Recker

Back when I invited people to apply for the Uni Watch internís position, one of the finalists was David Sonny. Although he didnít make the final cut, he had already set up an interview with Bengals equipment manager Rob Recker, which I encouraged him to go ahead with. He readily agreed. Hereís how their chat went down:

David Sonny: How did you get to the position of Cincinnati Bengals equipment manager?

Rob Recker: Well, I actually started off as a trainer for OSU. While there I began to intern with the Browns, but I left for the assistant trainer job with the Bengals in 1991 and continued in that role until 2000.Ē

DS: And then you made the jump to equipment manager?

RR: Well up until then Tom Gray was the equipment manager and I was a guy who would help anyone out that I could. So basically in 1999 you could have called me the assistant equipment manager. After 1999, Tom Gray retired and Mike Brown offered me the promotion from assistant trainer to equipment manager.

DS: And so you took the job.

RR: Well yeah, when the boss tells you heíd like to move you from one area to another, promote you, and make you the head of a department, you donít say no. Let me just say this, Mike Brown is a very intelligent man. He sees a lotÖ he sees everything. He really made it nice here.

DS: Nice? How do you mean?

RR: Well, I took over the first year we moved into Paul Brown Stadium, and at that time many people had very negative views of the franchise, which often happens when you lose. Mike Brown changed all that. There was a time when you would hear players complain about not getting a lot from the team, like clothes, shoes, gloves. Now we get players coming in from other organizations that come in and are wide-eyed in amazement about everything they get for free. I mean, players are actually shocked that they get all of this [referring to the seemingly endless amount of merchandise, from hoodies to gloves and anything else that can be ordered]. If I need anything for this department, I just have to ask Mike Brown, he has never once said no to anything.

DS: So what do you feel your goal is?

RR: For players to get everything they need to perform on the field. I need to do what needs to be done for us to win, whether that means getting a player the shoes he requests, gloves, pads, whatever makes that player feel comfortable on and off the field.

DS: What are your thoughts on the new NFL logo?

RR: It is what it is. I like the old NFL logo, it has a sort of classic look to it, but things change. I like the new one too; it is going to be a ton of work for me switching over, though. Itís on everything [begins pulling out business cards, jerseys, nameplates, helmets, stationery, etc.]. I have to make sure that all of the old logos are replaced by next year so that weíre in compliance.Ē

DS: What about other logos, such as Reebok?

RR: A big part of my job is making sure that product is on the field. Like I said, it is what it is, donít underestimate just how much money that company makes, and puts into the game. It is my job to make sure that it looks its best.

DS: Iíve noticed that on the fieldwear and fanwear, the Reebok logo seems more toned down than in the pastÖ

RR: Yeah, the logos seemed to get out of hand a while back. But the NFL is very strict and there are now more restrictions on logo size and placement.

DS: So what about the helmets? I have seen the decals for sale to make your own and suchÖ

RR: We no longer use decals on our helmets. That was one of the first things I changed when I was promoted in 2000. It got to a point where we were just wasting time; I would have three or four guys out there repairing helmet decals for two or three hours straight the Monday after a game. The paint holds up better and looks better, now I just have a guy look over all the helmets after a game and anything that is too scratched or damaged we just send away to have painted. The helmets are my favorite part of the uniform, they are important to me.

DS: And the uniformsÖ

RR: I like the new uniforms; I liked the old uniforms as well. Itís funny, I had just developed new patterns [different tailoring cuts for different positions ó one for linemen, one for wide receivers, and so on] for all of the old uniforms and then we made the switch. I donít think people realize just how tough that is; the patterns didnít transfer over at all, so I had to make a whole new set. The new uniforms were not designed for football players though. Designers came in and came up with something that could be marketed to fans, which makes it difficult. The stripes on the sleeves, for example ó I still am not satisfied there, because each pattern ends up affecting the stripes in a different way, which you just canít get right. Take Justin Smith ó he came to me early on and we sat down to discuss what he wanted in a uniform cut. Justin is very specific, he doesnít want loose material and doesnít want sleeves, so I basically have to butcher every one of his uniforms to get it right, and look at the stripes [laughs], count them.

DS: So you do most of the alterations yourself?

RR: I wouldnít say that I do most of them. I will hem a jersey if a player comes to me, but there are times when you get 10 to 15 guys coming to you wanting their jersey to be hemmed ó then Iíll send them out. Itís a time thing.

DS: But you do the custom jobs yourself, correct?

RR: Yeah, Iíll sit down with a player and go over anything he wants done and Iíll make most of those alterations myself.

DS: And what about repairs?

RR: Iíll do most of those myself. If something is ripped, Iíll just whip out the sewing machine and take care of it. I can usually just add a small amount of fabric behind the tears and stitch it up, but there are times when it becomes more extensive. When that happens, we weigh whether itís worth the time fixing it or if weíre better off just getting a new uniform.

DS: And if a player gets a tear on the field [during a game]?

RR: Oh, Iíll just grab my needle and thread and stitch it up right on the sidelines, I did that for Rudi [Johnson] a couple games ago.

DS: And if the tear it too extensive to repair on the field?

RR: Well, we have a backup jersey on hand. If something were to happen, though, itís either fix the uniform, get a new one on him, or he has to come out of the game. Itís as simple as that.

DS: How do you keep the jerseys so tight to the pads?

RR: We run strips of double-sided tape across the pads and pat the jersey down. Some teams use Velcro, but I prefer tape. It really adheres and keeps the jersey from moving around.Ē

DS: So who are the players who really care how they look out there?

RR: Carson [Palmer], Chad [Johnson] and Rudi [Johnson]. They are my fashion designers.

DS: While weíe on the subject of Chad, where did he get the black and orange chinstraps?

RR: Not from me, thatís for sure. He went out and bought them himself.

DS: AndÖ

RR: And the NFL called me complaining about it. Heís a grown man, I supply him with the correct chinstrap, and he chooses whether or not to wear it. Chad is a smart kid, he knows what he is doingÖ and he is going to do it anyway.

DS: What do you think about it?

RR: I really like the look; I think the whole team would look great with them. If I could do it I would have the whole team wearing them.

DS: Anything else interesting about Chadís uniforms?

RR: Before one game a couple of years ago he comes to me and says ĎI want sleeves.í He wanted, you know, baggier, looser sleeves. It was a fashion statement. I told him ĎChad, theyíre going to be grabbing all over you if you go out wearing sleeves.í But he insisted, so I made up a jersey with sleeves for him.

DS: How did that work out for him?

RR: After the first few plays he came running to me on the sideline saying ĎRob! Rob! They are grabbing all over the sleeves, I needs another jersey.í I said, ĎNo ****.í That experiment lasted one drive.

DS: Anything else?

RR: Shoes, he has more shoes than he can ever possibly wear.

DS: Was there anything you tried during the uniform change that you still wish you could get right?

RR: Striped socks. Mike Brown and I both love simple striped socks. We tried really hard to get that to work, we were going for a similar sock stripe that the team used to wear. After some time we just decided that with the modern uniform the striped socks just looked out of place, especially with the Bengalsí stripes.

DS: One last thing before I go: facemasks.

RR: Oh yeah, we have tons of those, especially with all the new helmet styles and manufactures. For instance, look at the difference between the Revolution kickerís facemask [left] and the standard kickerís facemask [right]. The Revolution facemask attaches at the bottom, so it has a completely different look. It also has less eye protection and you could easily get your whole hand in there. Then look at Willie [Anderson]ís facemask ó Iím surprised no one else wears it. Itís much lighter than most facemasks out there and provides great protection. It is the look, everyone is making a fashion statement these days, even with the facemask.

DS: Like L.T.?

RR [laughing]: Yeah, just like L.T. His facemask is a personal statement, just like a lot of these guys with shoes. It provides no more protection, but the look is what he wants.


11-30-2007, 01:18 PM
BTW, I'm not David Sonny