TOWNSHIP, Ohio – This weekend revolves around the former players, coaches and contributors who are inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Their careers – some a few years old, a few decades in the past – will be honored by the pageantry that Enshrination Week brings.
The festivities are tailor-made for the 28 winners.
A player can hoist a trophy after a championship, a coach can get sprayed with Gatorade. But the highlight of a professional footballing career is when a gold colored jacket, created with exact custom specifications, is donned and the registrant wears their pride. Haggar, the Texas-based clothing company that’s been around almost as long as the NFL has been around, is responsible for some of that pride.
“We launched the first jacket in 1978,” said Mindy Davis of Haggar. “We are therefore the only company to have ever made a jacket for the gym. “
The hall opened in 1963, but it wasn’t until 1978 that Haggar started making the jackets. “And I don’t think anybody had any idea what the dedication would look like or what coins they should give to these amazing athletes,” she said.
The story of the origin of its creation is lost, she said. While the Masters have their moment in the green jacket, football has created a standard: the living room members are known as the “Gold Jackets”.
“It’s really what it means guys are at a gold level,” Davis said. “That’s why they really wanted a gold jacket.”
She added that the color is “not registered in any color register, so it cannot be duplicated”, and the
actual color mixing is “under lock and key”.
“The color changed once for us in 2012,” Davis said. “And it was because of the high definition television. When it started, the color looked a bit off on the camera. And so we made this update. He added a slight red tint to it just to make it look better on TV.
It is difficult to determine an average size as the jackets cover such a range. Compare Tommy McDonald, a Hall of Fame wide receiver who played in the 1960s at 5ft, 9in, 176 pounds, to offensive lineman Alan Faneca, who is devoted this weekend. He played at 6-5 and 316 pounds.
“Every year when the courses are announced, they sort them alphabetically by their last name. And so it’s a continuous list, basically alphabetically by class, ”Davis said.
That means Charles Woodson will be No.354, she said. Jackets include name, year and induction number.
Usually, the process begins immediately after the Super Bowl, when the class is announced. Haggar officials are coordinating “Measure Monday,” Davis said. (Deceased members do not receive a jacket posthumously, she said.)
“They go by one by one. We have a tailor there. Sometimes it’s someone from Haggar, or sometimes it’s an outside tailor, depending on the location. They are measured, and we take all of their measurements down. We go back up and we create the jacket. It is made in a factory in Chicago.
To make the eventual moment as special as possible, the fitting jackets are all navy blue.
“It’s a conscious decision to have these navy blue (blue) and not gold because we want the first time they try gold to be their jacket,” she said.
The jackets are made from hop wool – “very high quality,” Davis said. Hopsack is a breathable weave. And the buttons are cast in bronze with the Hall of Fame logo. The patches include a Haggar label on the inside and a crest on the outside.
Then there is the box.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “It opens – it simulates a football field – and their jacket hangs there when it opens. I personally send them to each one with a letter of everything they need to do. So they try it on for the first time at home. We ask them not to try it on in front of the camera because the first time people should see them wear it “It’s a special moment. (This year’s winners are the first to receive the special box, which Davis said took about six months of prototypes to succeed. They also receive a garment bag.)
If the jacket fits, they send it to the room with the shipping labels included, and it is kept locked up until consecration. If it doesn’t fit perfectly, the inductee will take pictures and send them, along with his jacket, for touch-ups.
“We will do it as many times as necessary,” said Davis. “I’ll often say it’s ‘I wish the sleeves were a quarter of an inch longer or shorter.’ Very minor changes are made.
After all, she said, “it’s their precious possession.”
Davis worked for Haggar for several years, and still on the Hall of Fame account. She remains in regular contact with hall officials throughout the year. And while the clothing business isn’t usually a top priority with a player thanking teammates for the block, their coaches for their advice, and their family for their support, at least one of them actually mentioned Haggar in his acceptance speech, Davis said.
“Tim (Brown) is really close to the Haggars; the Haggar family helped him enter Notre Dame. Notre Dame and the Haggar family are huge contributors to Notre Dame… there is a building named on campus after the family. But Tim actually mentioned Haggar in his dedication speech (in 2015) because he was such an iconic part of his life.
Coronavirus restrictions have hampered another iconic part of the process – sizing. Due to travel restrictions, inductees sent Davis a jacket: “‘This is my favorite sports coat, I love the fit.’ We used it as a template to make their golden jackets.
Usually, before the pandemic, Davis said that part of the process she calls “the car wash” takes place. The winners will come for the sculptor to measure them for their eventual busts which will be set in the room, the ring sizes and jacket measurements are taken, and they sign soccer balls.
“Everything is in one place,” Davis said of the one-stop-shop approach.
While the moment seems special – a smiling player is guided in the personally fitted jacket – another rule is in place to preserve the moment.
“We never let anyone try on the jacket because it is only for these amazing athletes and contributors. We look at the jacket, we touch, we smell, we make sure everything is perfect – but no one is trying that.
Only the winner can make the decision to let someone wear it.
Like a football team working in sync, Haggar relies on teamwork. Davis credited Tony Anzovino, Haggar’s sourcing and merchandising manager, who is deeply involved in the process. Anzovino is in charge of the designers and works with the factory and the fabrics.
The pride doesn’t stop with the players and their families. Haggar will be bringing 10 staff to the ceremonies, Davis said.
“It’s really fun,” she said. “And you know, it’s a part of my job, but it’s my favorite. My dad and my husband are a little jealous that I can handle this. And, you know, my husband came over one night and I was texting and he said, “What are you doing? And I said, ‘I’m texting Tim Brown.’ And he (said) ‘It’s so strange to hear my wife say those words.’ “
It is said that “clothes make a man”, and this axiom will emerge this week in Canton. Men have made their careers. And while these careers are different – a filmmaker, coaches, scout, players and others are honored – their bond will be a special sports jacket.
As Lynn Swann said in 2001, “I can’t stay here in Canton, Ohio, wearing this golden jacket and saying ‘I did it on my own.’ But you know what? You’re not going to take that jacket off me.
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