Chiefs Equipment Staff Braces for Start of Training Camp

The team is moving equipment up to St. Joseph, Missouri, this week

It turns out the "calm before the storm" isn't so "calm" at all.

Next week, the Kansas City Chiefs will arrive at the campus of Missouri Western State in St. Joseph, Missouri, to begin training camp, their fourth under head coach Andy Reid. First, the rookies, quarterbacks and injured players come on Tuesday, followed by veterans on Friday.

But before that happens, the equipment staff, led by head equipment manager Allen Wright, takes four days to move more than 200,000 pounds of equipment the 60 miles north.

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"It's basically 10 semi-trucks," Wright said Wednesday morning, speaking to the media as members of his team packed a truck behind him. "19,200 pieces of bubble gum, 22,000 dryer sheets, over 1,000 towels. It's a lot. It's a lot over a three-and-a-half week period. As an equipment manager, you can't run out, so you can never have enough."

Wright, 51, took over as the Chiefs head equipment manager in 2011, when his 22-year predecessor, Mike Davidson, retired. Wright learned from Davidson to always make it a priority to have everything a player asks, or possibly could ask, for. Wright says that today, the most popular item the players request are shoes, but he even takes it a measure further.

"They have pictures of their families and their kids in their lockers [in Kansas City]," he explained. "We take the extra step to put those in their lockers down there to make Missouri Western State our second home."

Kansas City Chiefs equipment staff load trucks for training camp.

Wright, started his career with the Chiefs equipment staff in 1983, which makes the 2016 season his 33rd with the team. During that tenure, he has helped set up locker rooms for more than 500 regular season games, sustained years of the 500-mile trip for training camp in River Falls, Wisconsin, and worked for nine different head coaches.

In 2013, Wright began working for current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

"Best I've ever worked for," he said with a smile of Reid, "Not just as a coach, but as a person, he's a guy that I feel very comfortable going into his office and saying, 'Coach, I need this,' or, 'I'm not sure if I can do this.'

"With some head coaches, that's not an option. He's a good person and that makes our job way, way easier."

To Wright's credit, it's very much a two-way street. Reid takes a lot of pride in the way the Chiefs players and staff members carry themselves, and that focus extends as far as physical appearance.

This past season, Wright, with the support of his staff, received the New Era Equipment Manager of the Year Award.

Using specifically defined standards, New Era judges each NFL team's overall appearance on the sideline—this includes whether or not they have the correct hats, sweatshirts or equipment for each week of the season. This becomes a more difficult process now that teams wear different apparel for special events like Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the "Salute to Service" game.

Equipment managers around the league are eligible for many different awards, but for Wright, this honor was special.

"This happens to be, in my mind, the best one to win," he said. "We've been in the running for several of them, but for me, honestly, what we do here on a daily basis, the example we set within the organization as far as professionalism, and how we are on a daily basis is probably way more important."

That weight put on professionalism becomes even greater amplified on weeks like this, when Wright is responsible for the transport of everything the team could possibly need.

But the fascinating thing is that even as he actively faces this challenge, he's already preparing for the next one.

The hardest part of it all, Wright explains, will be the two-day period between the 18th and 19th of August. In the matter of 48 hours, Wright and his staff will pack up the 200,000 pounds of equipment they moved to St. Joseph and bring it home to Kansas City. Once it's back in Kansas City, they will re-pack what they need for the team's first preseason road trip to Los Angeles.

For Wright and the 15 members of his travel staff, this will mean very little sleep.

"That's probably the part at the end of the day that I'm most proud of," he said. "It takes a lot of people to do their job and I rely on a lot of people to do it right."

To be a part of this team and this upcoming season, Wright says, is what makes it worth it.

"I feel like we're in as good of a position as we've ever been in my 33 years here," he said of what's to come. "Andy Reid and John Dorsey and the whole organization—it's time. It's time, hopefully, to go have the success that we feel like we deserve."

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