WCPO's Mike Dyer is giving a behind-the-scenes look at how Cincinnati Bengals rookie Sam Hubbard is adjusting to life in the NFL, both on and off the field. These stories will chronicle how the former Ohio State and Moeller standout is progressing with on-field play, interactions with teammates and coaches and his new day-to-day experience of life as an NFL player.
CINCINNATI – Customized Bengals jerseys of Sam Hubbard will soon outnumber the number of players on the training camp roster.
Hubbard, the Cincinnati Bengals' rookie defensive end and former Ohio State and Moeller High School standout, has not played a snap in a preseason game. Yet there will be 164 customized jerseys delivered to his family and friends in two batches in the next week or two.
The Bengals have 91 players in training camp this month.
“It’s unprecedented for us really for a player’s family to come and order that many jerseys all at once,” said Bengals Pro Shop Merchandise Manager Monty Montague. “So we were thrilled when they did, obviously. We are getting them produced as we speak, and they should be seeing them in the next couple of weeks.”
Madison Hubbard, Sam’s sister, helped to coordinate the orders this spring and summer from family and friends from around the country. By early June, she had collected about 150 names for the No. 94 orange and black jerseys in men, women and youth sizes.
"To be honest I knew the order would be huge," Madison Hubbard said. "Everyone who has ever met Sam loves him."
The order submitted July 16 depleted what the Pro Shop had in its inventory for customized jerseys. There already have been requests for a second order.
“We carry blank jerseys available for customized jerseys for any player and other names,” Montague said. “They went heavy and deep into some of our sizes that we had to order some more from Nike and get them to our embellishment company.”
Montague said the only comparison of customized jerseys is of Bengals punter Kevin Huber, a University of Cincinnati and Archbishop McNicholas High School graduate whose family ordered jerseys over his past 10 seasons with the team.
“But, the 164 at once is unheard of,” Montague said of Hubbard.
Hubbard’s family received a team discount; his entry-level Nike jersey retails for $100. The family ordered the customized jerseys in men’s black and orange, youth black and orange and in orange for women.
Sam Hubbard, a lifelong Bengals fan, didn’t wear a Bengals jersey as a youngster. He had posters of Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson and Rey Maualuga back then. He received Rudi Johnson’s autograph at Kenwood Towne Center, and he loved watching Chad Johnson every Sunday.
Knowing 164 jerseys were ordered in his name was flattering, Hubbard said.
“I know Kevin Huber put in a huge order back in the day when he first got here,” Hubbard told WCPO. “It’s really special. No pressure at all. It’s really cool.”
Jim Hubbard, Sam’s father, told WCPO his family has season tickets at Paul Brown Stadium. They’re also preparing for tailgates this fall. The Hubbard family had large numbers of people in tailgate parties in Columbus during Sam’s college career.
“They’re just really excited,” Sam Hubbard said. “Everybody is really excited to be a part of my support system and get out there on Sundays and tailgate, have a good time, enjoy the city and enjoy the hard work we’re putting in.”
Montague said he's hopeful Hubbard's jersey will be added to the regular Pro Shop variety of selections soon, just like Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and other stars.
“We are certainly hopeful that Sam gets the backing from fans to demand that the jersey is made," Montague said. "But for now we are just kind of taking a hands-off approach and seeing how the fans are reacting to him playing for us. And if we get enough demand we will reach out to Nike and get it on the shelves.”