CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -It’s one of the biggest life achievements for any football player.
You walk across the stage on NFL Draft night, the commissioner is waiting, and he has your new jersey in his hands.
He unfolds the jersey, and BANG, there’s your name on the back.
But how does that happen so quickly?
Do they have a jersey for every single team, with every possible player’s name already printed?
With 23 players invited to Thursday night’s NFL Draft, and 32 teams, that would mean there would need to be 736 jerseys made in advance.
That’s not how it works.
The company STAHLS', with facilities in Mentor, Ohio, has been the printing company for the past seven drafts and will be there again this year.
“Being on a tight deadline requires us to be on point,” Josh Ellsworth, vice president of sales for STAHLS’ told 19 News reporter Dan DeRoos.
The process began months ago when STAHLS’ cut out letters for every players name that’s been invited to the draft.
Not every team uses the same font though, meaning all 23 names have to be cut out in each team’s font.
As a back-up, two copies of every name are printed and cut out, meaning there are a total of 1,472.
The number on the jersey is the easy part.
It’s always the number one, matching the first round in the draft.
The names, jerseys and the machines needed to adhere them were shipped to Nashville, site of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Now comes the pressure.
“Luckily our technology is very advanced, only taking 10 seconds to adhere the names to the jerseys and our months of prep work don’t allow much room for error,” Ellsworth said.
When a “pick is in” is when the STAHLS’ crew behind the scenes has to act quickly.
“We find out which team the player is drafted to when the pick is in,” Ellsworth described. “When the teams make their pick, we are radioed behind stage and our production begins.”
The crew generally has a two minute window to work but sometimes it’s even smaller.
“Being on a tight deadline requires us to be on point. Sometimes, we have as few as 45 seconds to complete the jerseys. It really comes down to practice and experience,” according to Ellsworth.
A smooth draft would be if every team stayed in their draft order and the picks are predictable.
If you think that happens, you’ve clearly never watched the draft.
“It can also throw a wrench in when there is a trade,” Ellsworth said.
“When you know which team is next, you can have the jerseys prepped on the machines and all the names laid out ahead of time. But when there is a trade, you have to remove the previous team’s materials while keeping everything organized and still prepping for the new team. A trade is definitely one of our biggest challenges.”