What goes on behind the scenes at the NFL draft is one NFL play you will never see in the works, but the outcome is always the same… perfection! If you are like scores of other NFL fans, you’ve probably wondered how that NFL Jersey for the newly picked player comes out so fast.
There is a team of three people in a 10-by-10-foot room backstage at the Auditorium Theater where the NFL draft picks are announced. They are equipped with two heat-press machines and thousands of names on the clear film ready for the presses. These names on the clear film are in folders which are organized by team, reports the Chicago Tribune on April 29.
This trio from Sthal’s, have two minutes to print the jersey from the time Roger Goodell walks on stage to make the announcement. The team members consist of Sthal’s executives. You have Lisa Leone, who is the client services director, Cathi Christopher, who is the production manager and Brent Kisha, who is not only the account executive, but he also leads the team making the jerseys.
The team from Stahl’s have been printing jerseys for the draft picks since 2012 and each year it has gone off without a hitch. The team leader Brent said that despite Thursday night’s unexpected first-round picks and surprising trades, this year’s operation was the smoothest yet!
Each team has its own font, which means each name has 32 versions. This year the team came equipped with 1,600 names and team possibilities. The trio are given the names as soon as the pick is submitted by the team and then like a whirlwind, they have two minutes to produce that jersey.
The trio get the draft pick name from the NFL representative then the two-minute drill starts. It is Leone who grabs the name from the box and hands it over to Kisha and Christopher at the presses. Two jerseys are made for each NFL draft pick. One for the presentation on stage and the other to be torn in pieces for trading cards.
The trio bring six jerseys with them for each NFL team, each with the No. 1 on the back. This is for the unlikely chance that a team will have three first round picks.
There was a time that they would only bring four No. 1 jerseys for each team, until the Minnesota Vikings traded up and had three first round draft-picks back in 2013. They found out then that they needed six jerseys displaying No.1, three to hand to the players and three for the trading cards.
Much like the NFL players themselves, this team of three practice the jersey making back home at their company outside of Detroit. They typically take about six weeks to prepare for this day. Stahl’s only makes the jerseys for the draft picks in attendance and they get the list of those attending about two weeks before the event. This year that list came with 25 names.
According to the New York Times in an archived article, the remaining jerseys are donated to charity. The Times reported on the amazing work done by Stahl’s behind the scenes back in 2014. This race against time was as down pat then as it is today.
The Times quips that the team making these jerseys are working in a space about the size of a kitchen in a Manhattan apartment (which is a another way of saying tiny). Still, their work is done on time and without a flaw!