Have You Ever Seen The ESPN “Prop Cage”?

Pretty freaking cool. Uni Watch did a piece on this and I’ll show you the photos and some insider commentary about the infamous ESPN Prop Cage.

Ha. Notice how readily available the Tebow and Palamalu jerseys are. Playoffs, baby. Wandering around in a 6’ x 25’ caged area full of ESPN-used helmets and jerseys is every sports fan’s dream. Stockpiles of awesome. Here are a few quotes from Uni Watch:

Jay Francis, Senior Coordinating Director at ESPN:

I’ve never understood why people are fascinated with our prop cage, but they are. It is a highlight of ESPN tours. It is simply a 6’ x 25’ caged area full of helmets and jerseys. We have an arrangement with Schutt to provide all the helmets. We do not have 12 different Oregon helmets, but receive the correct helmet week-of. The inventory is managed by the directors of the different sports/shows — the Baseball Tonightdirector manages baseball props, College GameDay director manages the college football props, etc. All manufacturers (Nike, Rawlings, Louisville Slugger, etc.) are very cooperative in working with us for our prop/jersey needs.

Uni Watch also heard from someone in the PR world, who prefers to remain anonymous:

Back in the late ’90s I was doing PR at an agency for Schutt Sports and we started offering networks the opportunity to use Schutt helmets on set for bowl game match-ups (pre BCS days). We would have to send a bunch –- maybe 20 possible helmets, and then when the match-ups were announced they would scramble to get the right helmets. ESPN started stockpiling helmets, eventually having most of the teams. At the time it was hard for networks and even conferences to get all the helmets –- we used to send all the SEC helmets to the PR staff for their media day, as they made for great set props. We also commissioned ESPN and CBS helmets that they would use coming in and out of commercials.

Years later I checked in with the Schutt guys and they said ESPN would send them a list of all the games before the season and then Schutt would send them the missing helmets. By now they probably have all they need. Not sure how they keep up on the special-edition helmets. We used to send with a Schutt or AiR chinstrap for extra branding.

This was before the licensed helmet and collectible days, so some helmet stickers were tough to get, as the school would sticker the helmets for the season –- not Schutt. I remember trying to get Florida State stickers for ESPN or CBS and the equipment manager saying he could send the main sticker but not the tomahawk merit stickers.

One thing we tried but that never took off was a split helmet — one side ’Bama and the other LSU, or whatever. I loved it, but you couldn’t shoot it correctly unless you had one of those flying cameras — it looked awkward when you tried to photograph it. I have a Nebraska/Tennessee helmet in my office from the 2000 Fiesta Bow. A little lame because both helmets were white

Pretty cool insider info. Thanks, Paul.


[photos via]

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