Few jobs in sports are as crucial to a team’s success as the Equipment Manager’s role is; but for Jimmy Luck, he happened to turn his passion for sports into a life-long career. After spending 9 seasons as the assistant equipment manager for the Atlanta Falcons, Luck joined the Jags in January of 2013 as the head of the department.
A typical day for Luck is usually a long one as he arrives as early as 6am. His team of five will work in shifts until 10pm at night to ease the brunt of the daily workload.
Every piece of equipment you see on the field is managed by Luck and his crew.
Strong organizational skills and attention to detail are key traits for any successful equipment manager.
“Everything from footballs, gloves, shoe laces, helmets, mouth guards, practice gear and full game day uniforms are taken care of by us” Jimmy says while standing next to at least 80 pairs of custom shoes for the coaching staff that have to be sorted and organized.
Clothing that arrives is tagged with the last name of a player using a heat press before it ever reaches their hands. This method allows for easy sorting once laundry is complete for the day.
But the laundry is never actually finished.
At least 5 industrial-sized washing machines running alongside dryers that are even bigger in size are located in a closed off area of the equipment room to block the heat coming from the constantly churning machines.
In the equipment room, a couple sewing machines and miscellaneous tools to handle any equipment repair scatter the work area. Electronically powered shelves that stand at least 12ft tall can be moved with a push of a button to allow for more storage space and easy away-game packing.
Off to the side you can see cloth nameplates of potential draft picks that were sewed for draft day jerseys just in case the Jags took a different player.
There are also machines that stretch the width of cleats for over-sized lineman who don’t want to order a bigger shoe size.
Some players have endorsement deals outside of the league-sponsored Nike that have to be tracked and accounted for while other players are picky about how the uniform fits.
“We have guys who want their jersey tight to avoid holding penalties and others who prefer to have their jersey loose, like the QB’s, to allow for full range of motion.”
Luck would also make a lot of mom’s jealous at his ability to get any stain imaginable out of a uniform.
“We have methods for grass, dirt, blood and everything in between to make sure the uniforms look as new as they day we got them.”
And then there’s the sorting.
With the switch from Reebok to Nike in 2012 and a new logo change in 2013, the Jaguars have had to completely reorder every piece of equipment and material two seasons in a row to reflect the updated looks. Large bins sit off to the side filled with old merchandise that’s donated to local charities and homeless shelters.
Working off a budget of around $1.5M, every player is outfitted head to toe with custom gear and can request more if they like.
“Some guys we have to look in their locker to see if they’re running low on shoes. If so, we have to place a special order to make sure they don’t run out before it’s game day.”
As the equipment manager, Luck’s job never stops and he must be able to adapt quickly to any situation thrown at him.
“My job is to make sure coaches and players don’t have to worry what they wear and the equipment on the field. If I can create one less distraction to make their day run smoothly, it’s easier for them to focus on winning football games.”
This article originally appeared in the 2013 Jaguars issue of Void Magazine.
Photos by the talented Logan Bowles