How it Gets Done at the NFL Draft

Have you ever wondered how a jersey gets printed so quickly on draft day? The answer is lots and lots of preparation and practice. From the time the NFL Commissioner calls the name of a lucky draft pick to when that player walks out on stage, our team at Stahls’ has to heat print a personalized jersey in about two minutes flat.

Everyone may look calm and cool on the surface, but behind the scenes, it’s a sprint to the finish. Thankfully, our team is a well-oiled machine. We’ve been doing this long enough that we know to plan for the unexpected – that includes bringing multiple versions of each jersey, copies of names, numbers – anything we can think of in case an anomaly arises. Because sometimes they do!

In 2013, the Minnesota Vikings wound up with three first-round draft picks as the result of a last-minute trade up. That meant they needed six jerseys, and we were short. In a quick thinking move, we grabbed an extra jersey from a mannequin and were able to heat press it in time, with no one the wiser.

Preparation for the big day takes place weeks before the draft at our Decorating Fulfillment Center where we create and cut nameplates to match each jersey font and color for draft prospects. That’s 256 names in 1400 different combinations!

All that hard work pays off on draft day when, in our tiny 100-square-foot room, we hit the ground running – pulling names from folders, choosing the right jersey from the racks, selecting the player’s new number, aligning them correctly, heat pressing and getting it out the door in under two minutes. It’s a delicate dance, and one we look forward to every year.

Since 2012, we’ve been partners with Nike with the goal to make the NFL draft an experience of a lifetime. There will never be another first time like this for the player, his family or any of us watching at home.

In fact, this year was a year of firsts for more than just players! It was the first draft to take place in an NFL stadium, AT&T Stadium, as well as the first one to ever be held in Texas!

To learn more about what it’s like to be behind the scenes at the NFL draft, check out this article on TribLive to see what our VP of Dealer Sales, Josh Ellsworth, has to say about the process.


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