LAS VEGAS – It’s a full house in Las Vegas this year for the 2022 NFL Draft and the final touches are being put in place at the Draft Theatre in Caesar’s Forum.
Backstage, in a nondescript room simply labeled “Nike Jersey,” the machine that makes dreams come true has been ready since 2020, waiting for her moment to shine.
The crystal-encrusted Hotronix Fusion IQ, also known as the “Bling Machine” will be feeling the heat tonight as the sure-handed folks from Stahls work to press jerseys for all the prospects in attendance taken in the first round.
“Our heat press, our Hotronix IQ Fusion is a workhorse machine – it takes about 10 seconds to get the adhesive to flow and stick to the jersey itself,” said Brent Kisha, Vice President of Commercial Sales of the lightning-fast process.
We took a special, behind the scenes tour of the @Nike Jersey room where @StahlsIDDirect makes #NFLDraft prospect’s dreams come true with several pairs of sturdy hands & 10 seconds of extreme heat. Check it out! Story coming soon. 📽: @KMontuoro13 pic.twitter.com/oIqkoUUO2r
— Emily Van Buskirk (@Emilnem) April 28, 2022
Baylor cornerback Kalon Barnes may be able to run the length of a football field in around 10 seconds but Stahl’s heat-transfer technology is in a league of its own.
“That’s definitely the core of our company, Stahl’s is all about heat-printing. I don’t know of any other process that is capable of that kind of speed,” said Kisha.
Stahl’s is celebrating its 90-year anniversary this year, as well as their 10-year milestone pressing jerseys for prospects at the NFL Draft and CEO Carleen Gray is in attendance as well.
“I started it with Nike back in 2012 and it was originally at Radio City Music Hall every year,” explained Kisha. “That was a cool event when it was there. Nashville was the beginning of the growth factor. It was just an amazing experience and I expect this one to be as good if not better.
Nashville was the first glimpse we got inside the hardest working room at the Draft and collaborating with Fanatics and Nike, Stahl’s has made upgrades to not only the space but the operation itself.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve done over the years is improve the process,” expressed Scott Vallee, Executive Creative Director for Stahls. “It’s way better than we had last time. The names will be all separate so each time Vicki can pull them out and lay them out and we’re going to grab them. And I think also we’ve improved the products we are using so it’s easier for us, less risk of any issues.”
Vicki is Victoria Nardini, Senior Director of Commercial Brand marketing for Stahls and this is her first time working the jersey room.
When asked if she was nervous, her answer was a swift as the Stahls’ process itself.
But the bigger space, smoother process, which includes a streamlined filing system coupled with the trusty heat machines, Stahls is ready for anything. Even the biggest fear – spelling a player’s name wrong.
“It’s been smooth. We have a bigger room which is nice. And this year they upgraded the back wall.”
Four people, three tables, two machines all with one mission – to deftly create a piece of NFL history and deliver destiny to NFL prospects anxiously awaiting their fate.
Written by Emily Van Buskirk