A GLAM SLAM TALKS FOOTBALL CHAINS WITH FORMER NFL KICKERS OWEN POCHMAN & GLENN PAKULAK
Fashion has become an integral part of football, both on and off-the-field, and for players and fans alike. Current and former NFL stars have made moves in the fashion world, dabbling in apparel and accessory design. Across the league, players make a conscious effort to maintain their style A-game. After years spent kicking in the NFL, Owen Pochman and Glenn Pakulak hung up their jerseys and made the transition to jewelry design.
It’s a unique post-NFL venture for the former players. Their company, Football Chains, was born out of a mutual interest in design and a creative concept in repurposing footballs. Pochman and Pakulak combined to play for 16 of the 32 NFL teams. In the process, they built up a large collection of game used balls. They have now turned those pigskins into vintage style necklaces that offer wearers a deeper connection to the game.
“We’re using our personal collection of beautifully weathered NFL used footballs that we amassed from the teams we were on and guys we played with to bring some NFL history to you in a stylish and personalized way.”
The football-themed accessories are designed with meaningful words, customized lettering, or black or gold football markings, and feature stainless steel ball chains. The necklaces range in price from $28-$38 and are available at footballchains.com.
A Glam Slam spoke with Pochman and Pakulak about developing Football Chains, the jewelry design process, personal style, and NFL predictions. Check it out:
Jewelry making is definitely a unique post-football venture. How did the concept of Football Chains come about?
Owen Pochman: I displayed some of my used footballs like art because the color of the weathered leather was so amazing. But a football without some fancy autograph is kind of awkward and boring to look at. So I thought there was a better way to showcase the beauty of the leather. That’s when I started cutting them up and dabbling with jewelry ideas.
Glenn Pakulak: I have always had an interest in fine leathers and am not afraid to admit that I’ve been caught in stores with my face buried in a nice jacket or duffle bag. Nothing beats the smell of leather! So being an addict of leather, fashion and football, it made perfect sense.
How did you two partner up? And how did you discover a mutual interest in design?
OP: We are both left-footed kickers with seven letter last names starting with P that no one can pronounce who both like fashion and thrifting. Once I heard Glenn moved to LA, I figured this is a guy I should meet.
GP: We had a couple of mutual friends and I had heard of Owen because of the NFL but our paths never crossed. A few months back I met a buddy of his who put us in touch out here in the LA. We met up at Coffee Bean and starting talking about football jewelry and Football Chains was born.
In general, how would you describe your personal style?
OP: I basically wear a similar look everyday: Wingtip Boots, worn in jeans, a Henley or v-neck sweater, and a blazer or leather jacket. I would call it Classic Comfortable.
GP: I like to keep people guessing. Whether it’s a vintage t-shirt under a cardigan with a pair of 80’s Adidas sneakers or a crisp white button up with a slim black tie and suspenders. It’s fun to create multiple looks.
Can you briefly explain the process of creating the jewelry? Do you craft it all yourselves?
OP: It starts with the football by unpicking all the stitching, then taking out the lining and the bladder. Next, we go to a machine shop in downtown LA and cut the leather into exact pendants. The chains and jump rings are made in America and we burn in the letters by hand. Lastly, we put it all together and package it. I guess you could sort of call that hand repurposed crafted!
GP: Yeah, what Owen said! We do it all from top to bottom. It is not an easy process, but it’s fun.
The jewelry is made from NFL used footballs that you have both amassed throughout your careers. Did you have any idea while playing that you’d end up doing something like this? Do players typically keep that many footballs?
OP: My mind is always creating something and as a kicker it’s just you and a football alone on a field quite often. So I was definitely planning something years ago. As far as ball hoarding goes, I don’t think players normally keep many balls because they only need one to workout with. Kickers and punters on the other hand need a bunch and balls are expensive. So when teams give you balls to train with and you’re a fringe player, you keep them.
GP: I knew eventually I would do something with them. I just wasn’t sure. So when Owen brought it to my attention of what he was thinking, I looked at it as the sign I was waiting for. The interesting thing about the balls kickers get is that they’re usually old game balls that then made their way down through the practices.
Are there any footballs in your collection that you won’t part with/turn into necklaces? If so, what is their significance?
OP: I have a couple from my rookie season on the Giants. I had the longest stint of my career in New York and they treated me really well. So those are the most sentimental.
GP: When I played for the Saints in 2008. We traveled up to Detroit to play the Lions. I am from Detroit and had 55 family members and friends there for the game. The Lions were having a terrible year (0-16) so being the punter for the Saints, I never got to punt in the game for everyone who came to see me! My head coach Sean Payton felt so bad for me after the game the team awarded me the game ball out of pity! haha
NFL players across the league have been stepping up their style game. Have you shared the jewelry with any of your former teammates or current players?
OP: It’s funny because I used to get made fun of in the locker room for wearing pants that aren’t even close to how tight pants are these days. That being said, my old teammates have been super positive about the idea and excited to get a Football Chain for them and their significant other.
GP: Fashion has always been big in sports all the way back to Broadway Joe Namath, but with the way social media is these days guys have more capability to show off their style! A bunch of my former teammates are already wearing them because they are really subtle yet make a strong statement.
Do you have any plans to extend the collection beyond necklaces? Could we expect any team branded items in the future?
OP: We created numerous versions before we came out with the current dog tag shaped pendant, but are keeping it simple to start. So we’ll see if we got to go to the bullpen for something. As far as branding, that gets into the whole licensing issue and we look at this as a limited edition art project for now.
GP: I agree with Owen, we thought long and hard on this and since it is such a unique limited edition that we have, we felt this would be the most direct way to reach a large scale of people.
You mentioned that you both played for a lot of teams but didn’t stay very long anywhere. Was there any team/city that you enjoyed most, despite the short stay?
OP: I love Boston, but New York is where it’s at for me. There’s so much going on and I like to go for long walks. In the offseason I used to go to a different part of the city almost everyday and explore with no destination in mind. Sometimes ending up at a Museum, thrift shop, or Happy Hour.
GP: The ambiance of New Orleans was incredible, from the music to the food and the fans. New Orleans was second to none. I also spent quite a bit of time living in the Bay area when I was trying out with the Raiders so Northern California will always have a part of my heart.
Do you have any early Super Bowl XLVIII predictions?
OP: Seattle over New England.
GP: Detroit! Gotta stay true to my roots.
(photos via footballchains.com)