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Uniform extremes

Posted Jun 15, 2011


As we count down to June 24th for the unveiling of new 2011 uniforms for the Buffalo Bills we take a look back at the franchise’s uniform history with anecdotes, stories and recollections from those that experienced the history first hand. Our latest installment is provided once again by long time Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski, more commonly known to Bills players over the years as “Hojo”. He shares with us some of the franchise’s most extreme uniform player sizes with some back stories for additional background.

Smallest jersey size ever issued – Roscoe Parrish, 2005-present
“Roscoe is the guy,” said Hojnowski. “I don’t think anybody has ever been a smaller jersey size than Roscoe. He wears a size 38 jersey. That’s pretty rare. I don’t remember anybody ever having a smaller jersey than that.”

Largest jersey size ever issued – Ted Washington, 1995-2000
“Howard Ballard was pretty big, Ted (Washington) and probably Sam Adams are the front runners, but I believe Teddy had them all beat,” said Hojnowski. “We’re talking about size 54s and 56s. Mike Rockwood was almost 6’10” but his body wasn’t as wide as Sam’s or Ted’s. There’s actually an option on those jerseys that’s called pot belly. It’s for any of those linemen that have some extra down there in the gut.”

Tightest jersey ever worn – Bruce Smith, 1985-1999
“For a guy his size he would’ve worn a 46 or a 48, but Bruce, his was a 42,” said Hojnowski. “That’s the reason why Bruce looked like the jersey was spray painted on him all the time. We literally needed two or three people to get it on and two or three people to get it off. No one wore a jersey smaller than their regular size than Bruce.”

Dirtiest jersey – Jim Haslett, 1979-1985; Fred Smerlas 1979-1989
“Jim Haslett or Fred Smerlas, one of those guys was always mucking it up in the trenches,” Hojnowski said. “Haz back in the day was in on almost all the plays. He was a guy that always had a jersey that needed some special attention.”

Bloodiest jersey – Conrad Dobler, 1980-1981
“It has to be Conrad Dobler and often times it wasn’t his blood,” said Hojnowski. “Conrad told me one time because I had asked him. He said, ‘If I’m on your team I will do anything I can to keep my guy from getting to our quarterback.’ If I have to bite him, trip him, whatever.’”

Most damaged jersey – Joe Devlin, 1976-1989
“Joe Devlin would have a ton of little rips and tears all over his jersey,” Hojnowski said. “He’d need a repair almost weekly. A lot of the linemen did because those jerseys were terrible back in the day. We’d always have to keep four or five of them in stock for every lineman because of those guys using their hands and trying to rip the jerseys off of each other. His I remember more than anybody and helmet too the same way.”

Biggest helmet size – Kellen Heard, 2010; O.J. Simpson, 1969-1977
“Kellen Heard has a double XL helmet size. The last guy that had to have a special helmet made for him is O.J.,” said Hojnowski. “Back then they never made anything over a 7 ¾ and his was an 8 ¼. He had a big huge head. They had to special order his helmet. They had to make a separate mold and make a special helmet for him.”

“Kellen Heard played with the Raiders before he got here and they called me on a Friday saying you just signed this guy that we had and I wanted to give you a heads up. He’s a double XL helmet. So we called the company right away and had one sent in special. A double XL today is probably anywhere from 7 ¾ to 8 ¼.”

Biggest shoe size – Mike Rockwood, 1997
“We’ve had nothing bigger than 18. Mike Rockwood wore an 18. He was only here a couple of years and I think he only appeared in one game for us. Howard Ballard wore a 16. I believe Marcell Dareus wears a 16. Most of the companies stock up to 18, but anything over that is a special order and would cost three to four hundred bucks per pair.”