Metro Detroit company swiftly prints jerseys for drafted NFL players to hold on stage

Stahls’ from St. Clair Shores ‘on the clock,’ behind the scenes at 2022 NFL Draft

Stahl's, a Metro Detroit company founded in Detroit, has contracts with all of the major U.S. sports leagues. The company will be working on the clock during the 2022 NFL Draft that kicks off Thursday, working behind the scenes to print and have a jersey ready for players on stage just moments after they are picked by their new team.

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. – A Metro Detroit company will play a major role in the 2022 NFL Draft, but you won’t see them on stage in Las Vegas -- they’ll be working behind it.

Workers from Stahls’, a company that specializes in the pressing and materials for customizing almost anything, will be working behind the scenes during this year’s NFL draft to print jerseys for players just moments after they are picked by their new team.

There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Stahls’, but this home-grown, family-owned company initially founded in Detroit has contracts with all of the major U.S. sports leagues: the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL.

“The company was started in a Detroit garage, supplying letters and numbers -- 90 years later, fast forward to 2022, and we have become the world’s largest manufacturer of garment decoration materials and equipment,” said Brent Plawecki, Stahls’ COO.

The company makes jerseys, t-shirts and more for anybody. You can see some of their processes in the video report above.

Even if you have heard of Stahls’, it’s likely that you didn’t know the role they play behind the scenes at the NFL Draft. Staff members have just mere moments from the time a player is chosen to have a jersey ready for them on stage.

The team says there are certainly nerves due to the tight timeline, but that they always execute.

More: 2022 NFL draft: What to know, how to watch, Detroit Lions info

Vicki Nardini says that a lot of prep work goes into the process beforehand, where team members cut all of the pieces they’ll need for the event, calling it “highly organized chaos.” That that chaos is multiplied this year, with 24 picks and 32 different NFL teams. So, all of the different colors, fonts, styles and every combination of them have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

“Basically, we’re provided a list of names that will be drafted this year, and we cut the names using key transfer vinyl and twill in every single possible combination,” Nardini said.

Stahls’ workers don’t really have any idea who is going to be picked by which team. So, for example, when the Los Angeles Rams drafted Jared Goff in 2016, they had less than two minutes to get the jersey together -- and that’s how it’s going to work for all 24 picks at this year’s draft.

“When (the players) stand up on the stage, it actually looks like the jersey they will be wearing,” Nardini said. “All of the prep work is done in the months before the draft, so there’s a lot of work. Once we get there, we know that we have to deliver. We’ve been doing it for 10 years now, and it’s worked out OK.”

The 2022 draft isn’t the business’ first rodeo -- they’ve been making the jerseys for the last several drafts.

It’s behind-the-scenes magic that we’ve never actually seen, and it’s coming from a company right here in our community. So, all of the equipment needed for this year’s draft has been shipped from Metro Detroit to Las Vegas.

And also in Las Vegas this year is another Stahls’ production: At the NFL Draft’s experience area, fans can get customized gear instantly from Stahls’.

“They’re gonna be selling t-shirts that have the draft logo or their team logo, and then they have the opportunity to come to our tent and customize it on site,” Nardini said.

The 2022 NFL Draft kicks off on the evening of Thursday, April 28. The Jacksonville Jaguars have the first pick, and the Detroit Lions have the second -- and Stahls’ will be doing the jersey lettering for both.

Related: Lions likely looking for help on defense with No. 2 pick

About the Author:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.