The equipment manager of the Denver Broncos, Chris Valenti, and his staff have a lot on their plate everyday, but especially this time of year. They take care of everything from helmets on the field to bow ties for press conferences.
Valenti, who is my uncle, has been equipment manager for 17 years. In fact, in his first two years the Broncos won the Super Bowl. He has four full time employees. On game day, Chris has five ball boys, five visiting clubhouse staff members and additional staff. Valenti was actually voted the NFL equipment manager of the year in 2011.
If you are like me I sit at home with my family watching the Broncos on Sundays. As the game unfolds questions enter my mind. Duirng a visit with Chris I was able to get some of these answered. For instance, I see Knowshon Moreno lose a shoe while gaining a first down. So how many pairs of shoes does each player have? Well, some use one pair for as long as they can, others get a new pair each week. It differs from player to player. There has recently been a lot of questions about concussions with NFL players. As for helmets, each player is given one helmet per season. It is polished and repaired before each game. The Broncos go through 750 pairs of helmet stickers per season. Every person dreams about owning a Peyton Manning jersey, how many does each player have. We learned, each player has one active jersey and one back up for each color (orange, blue and white). The Broncos are only allowed to wear their blue jerseys twice a season.
My Dad is constantly on me to clean my room and put my clothes away, how does it work for the Broncos. Laundry is boring to most people, but it's an everyday chore for the equipment staff. Every practice day there is about 15 industrial loads of wash. During a two-a-day practice there is twice that amount. The Broncos transport 13,000 pounds of equipment for each game home and away. That is similar to moving an entire household. For home games, the Broncos are required to furnish the visiting team 600 towels. Before each game an NFL official watches the Broncos warm up. They are looking to see if any of the rules of attire have been broken. The rules are: Their shirts must be tucked in, pants must go past their knees, their socks pulled up high enough, and even the color of the shoelaces must match the tongue of the shoe. Any violation of these rules will be reported to Valenti before the game so that the players can comply, and therefore not be fined for the infraction. In addition to these rules, the NFL only allows Nike and Under Armour logos to be shown on the field. Any other logos must be covered.
The equipment staff participates in each and every aspect of every practice session by assisting the coaches, and in taking care of any equipment malfunctions. Every Denver Broncos fan sees the product of the football players out on the field every Sunday. Nobody knows how much behind the scenes work goes into a three hour game. The equipment staff may not have as much publicity as the players , but the game can't go on without them.