Going Batty with football gear
Pack's equipment man speaks at Stephenson
Monday, August 26, 2013 7:00 PM
STEPHENSON - Members of the Stephenson football team got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the NFL when Green Bay Packers' equipment manger Gordon "Red" Batty spoke to the players Aug. 18.
Green Bay Packers’ equipment manager Gordon “Red” Batty explains the different styles of shoulder pads during his presentation to the Stephenson football team. EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
With three long tables packed with Packers' equipment, Batty explained that getting an NFL team ready for game day is as complex as the game plans the coaches draw up.
Batty, who has been the Packers equipment manager since 1994, made the trip to Stephenson after the Packers' game in St. Louis the night before.
"I've been in pro football for 41 years," said Batty. "I've seen it all from conference championship games to Super Bowls."
While preparing the Packers for battle, no detail is overlooked by Batty and his staff. Even the color of gloves is part of the game day strategy.
"If the Bears are wearing dark jerseys, we'll wear black gloves," said Batty. "That way you can get your hands on them without being noticed as much."
The inventory in an NFL equipment room is mind-boggling.
There are 65 different styles of face masks, $40,000 worth of shoulder pads that are custom made for each player, 400 pairs of pants, $30,000 worth of gloves and 800 footballs.
As equipment manager, Batty has to meet the different style preferences of every player on the team. He pointed out that quarterback Aaron Rodgers likes pants with a belt and wants elastic around the bottom of his jersey, Clay Matthews prefers pants with a tie-string and former receiver Donald Driver had his socks sewn into his pants.
Each player has two custom-made helmets. Batty pointed out that he cringes when he sees the flowing locks of Matthews and rookie Eddie Lacy stuffed into a helmet.
"I don't like it," he explained. "The head has a ridge in the back that stops the helmet from riding up. When you have that long hair, the helmet can slide up."
Like the pros, high school helmets now come with air pumps that expand the padding inside the helmet.
"Pump it once, OK. Pump it twice, that's all right," Batty explained. "But start pumping it three or four times and you're asking for trouble. The padding can give out."
Batty encourages running backs to wear small shoulder pads that are cushioned with a memory-foam like material that bounces back immediately after a hit.
"I see guys wearing these big shoulder pads. That's a negative," said Batty. "That makes it easy for a defender to get a hold of you."
Game film and scouting reports mean there are no secrets in the NFL. Equipment managers help to disguise a player's injury by using paper-thin pads that protect a sore muscle.
"Other teams watch everything during warm-ups," said Batty. "If they see a player with a big heavy pad, they're going to go after him."
Batty noted with pride that 25 NFL teams, including the Packers, have their uniforms made in Berlin, Wis.
"That makes it easy for us. We can go and make the changes we want," said Batty.
The stripes on the Packers' pants this year look a little wider because of a new stretch material.
While other NFL teams store all of their equipment in one huge room, the Packers have 16 equipment rooms.
"Organization is the key," said Batty. "That makes it easier for them to find what they need."
Batty noted with a chuckle that during the Packers' game with the Carolina Panthers last year a Panthers' fan yelled to him, "Hey Packer boy, Cam Newton is beating your (butt) and you're not doing anything."
Batty looked up at the fan and said, "You're wrong. I was busy polishing my Super Bowl ring."