The Unsung Manager

the_unsung_managerProfessional football is an industry of high profile jobs. From legendary coaches to admired players the NFL is a place full of heroes. Not all of the heroes of the NFL, however, get much time in the spotlight. It is obvious that without great players, managers, and coaching the NFL would be nowhere, but what about the people who make up the cogs and gears that make the NFL tick. We never hear about those responsible for making sure the most basic needs of the league are met. One such job is that of equipment manager. There is little glory and it is often a thankless job, but without these members of the larger NFL community troubles would crop up quickly.

So what exactly does an Equipment Manager do?

It is not a job that most even realize exist. The responsibilities of an NFL equipment manager are virtually endless and call for an individual who his quite literally a jack of all trades. Got a broken blocking sled? Call the Equipment Manager. Have a player with emergency uniform problems? Better get the Equipment Manager. Need a helmet fitted with a radio system? You guessed it; that too is the territory of an Equipment Manager. In fact, the job of Equipment Manager has very few boundaries.

The job of the 32 Equipment Managers in the NFL is never done. Equipment managers oversee up to 11 tons of weekly gear shipment, are responsible for washing uniforms and cleaning equipment after each and every practice, and beginning prepping for the next game as soon as one concludes. Of course these guys can’t do everything on their own. Equipment Managers have an entire team of staff, typically, that works with them. In a sense this creates yet another job; managing not just the equipment, but also the team that is there to help manage the equipment.

On the surface the job is about maintaining, fixing, and organizing all of a team’s necessary equipment. There is a more important aspect to the job that is hiding just beneath the surface however. Equipment managers are also responsible for the safety of their team. Each player has to be outfitted with pads and a helmet that fit perfectly, and are personally customized to ensure their maximum protection. This too is the area of the Equipment Manager. They must know how to fit for these pieces of equipment and exactly how they should fit.

An Equipment Manager is a team’s go to man for every material need. Equipment mangers wear many different hats: tailor, safety specialist, launderer, mechanic, logistics expert, and so much more. These managers must also know how to expect the unexpected. Taking initiative is a necessary quality as everything a team needs must be available at any given time. This even means having extra uniforms ready for away games, just in case. To say Equipment Managers perform an underappreciated task is an understatement. Most people don’t even have a clue that Equipment Manager is a position, much less the level of responsibility associated with the position. These people are not under appreciated by their employers, though. The average salary is anywhere from $70,000 to $91,000. So bear in mind each time you watch your favorite team play that each helmet, jersey, set of pads, water cooler, and headset is personally tended to by a relatively small team that works tirelessly to see each piece of equipment ready and waiting in the wings so that the show can go on.

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