In 1981, the NFL banned a substance called Stickum in reaction to cornerback Lester Hayes's extroverted custom of slathering the yellow gunk all over his hands, forearms and jersey. Players who had worn gloves for protection and basted them with Stickum to make them functional no longer could do so. Receiver Jerry Rice tried to solve the problem by wearing scuba gloves, but while their exterior remained sticky when wet, most players found them to be too thick. Tackified baseball batting gloves, on the other hand, did not resist dampness well. Today, football glove technology finally has caught up to the needs of football players. Several manufacturers market proprietary fabrics and multiple product lines to solve problems specific to different positions and weather challenges.
The Cutters brand, which dedicates itself solely to producing and marketing sports gloves, developed the successful and "C-Tack" material. Its primary innovation combined the tactification and the shell of the glove into a single material. It used to be that a glove had a shell layer and second layer of sticky material. The single-material strucure improves flexibility and reduces thickness. Players also like the sleek, shiny look of the material. The slick but sticky material allows you to wipe the glove clean of dirt, dry it of water and even machine-wash the gloves. Cutters offers the only line with a bare palm, intended to eliminate the problem of bunching material in the palm area.
Reebok and the NFL teamed up to create the NFL Equipment line of gear, which includes football gloves with the Griptonite palm material. Like the C-Tack, Griptonite combines the tactification with the shell into a single material. With a sleekness similar to the C-Tack, this material is designed to remain tackified when wet. The NFL Equipment gloves combine the proprietary material with multiple other materials in the same glove---for example, neoprene adjustable closures, spandex back, Lycra thumbs and mesh connections between fingers.
Nike markets its Magnigrip CL-based gloves mainly to skill position players because of its lightweight features, stickiness and flexibility. Nike's well-developed set of linemen gloves do not incorporate Magnigrip; rather, they are built with durable leather treated with their D-Tack substance, and they include removable padding. When considering grip, it is also important to consider the advantages of bare skin: the D-Tack Demolition line features a fingerless version, which is preferable for centers who, unlike other players, handle the football.
GrabTack, HeatGear and ColdGear
Under Armour markets three glove surfaces. The GrabTack is made for maximum stickiness and flexibility. It is incorporated into gloves made for skill position players, particularly running back and wide receiver. HeatGear technology is intended to increase breathability for skill position players who have complained that gloves have caused their palms to overheat and sweat, leading to greater difficulty in maintaining the feel of the ball. ColdGear is a synthetic material that is treated with a substance to provide extra stick.
Dura-Tack and Grip Tack
Palmgard takes an interesting approach with its Dura-Tack leather gloves, the product of a tanning technology that, according to the company, "becomes more supple and soft with use." They are machine-washable, made with spandex to add flexibility and feature pre-curved fingers. Grip Tack is a synthetic technology that is also washable.
- National Post (Canada); "Substance abuse, of a sort"; Joe O'Connor; November 2002
- The New York Times; "Niners' Numbers Sending Message"; Tom Friend; December 1994
- ESPN: Football Glove Makers are Counting the Ways; Darren Rovell
- Tampa Tribune; "NFL Sticking Rhett for Another $5,000"; Nick Pugliese; October 1995
- Photo Credit football image by haruspex from Fotolia.com
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