At The Players’ Tribune, we know it’s not just what you wear on the field, but what you wear off of it. That’s why we’ve created Threads Report, a series where we ask our contributors to look inside their closets, suitcases, lockers and whatever else — and share some items they’ve had in heavy rotation.
Here with the latest Threads Report is Vikings tight end (and winter coat advocate) Kyle Rudolph.
I’m a big, big Jordans guy. Like — if the house is burning down and I can only grab one thing, I’m grabbing as many pairs of Jordans as possible. However many I can throw into a bag. They’re that important. Desert-island level.
I wear Jordans all the time — probably every day in some way or another. Whether it’s with shorts and a t-shirt, casual with jeans, or whatever … they’re just so versatile. My all-time favorite pair is the Low 11’s. It’s just a really clean look.
The key with Jordans is to not hold out on color. There are your more traditional-looking colors: white and black, black and red, grey and navy. And they’re great. Want my advice, though? Go a little wild sometimes.
For example, I have one pair — and it’s a black shoe, sure. But then there’s the patent leather part: and that’s snakeskin green. (Don’t even worry about it.) Sometimes I’ll throw those on for home games — where we don’t have to wear suits or dress shoes. When you have to bring it down a bit, snakeskin keeps you way, way up.
I can still remember to this day when the Scottie Pippens came out. I was in third grade, but I could tell you the price from memory: $95. And they were worth every penny. The Pippens were fire.
Getting a pair basically came down to knowing which of your parents to play. I knew my dad would think I was crazy. But with my mom, I thought I had a shot.
Here’s my 10-step guide to getting your mom to buy you a pair of Pippens at the store:
1-10: Don’t tell her how much they cost until you get there.
I went to Catholic school — which, of course, meant uniforms. Same khaki pants, same polo shirt, every day. So if you wanted anyone to know you were someone, if you wanted to show a little personality, your shoes had to be on. They were what set you apart and clued people in to your style.
Long story short: When I walked into class in third grade with my Pippens on, I thought — just kidding, I knew — I was hot shit. Nobody could tell me anything. I wore them every day, until I outgrew them — and then maybe a few days after that.
As important as sneakers are, my dress clothes are just as important. Whether I’m going to a nice event or we’re on the road, I always wear a suit and tie. And I try to look business-professional, so I’m pretty conservative with my shirts and suits.
For me, the tie is an opportunity to add something extra — a little pop of color. My favorite website of all time is called thetiebar.com. I love to go on there and get a bunch of fun ties. And they’re pretty cheap, which is cool. They have ties that are like $15. So you can get a tie for a particular outfit, wear it once — and then not feel too bad if you don’t ever wear it again.
My favorite tie color is probably purple. I know what you’re thinking: Vikings player likes Vikings color. But it was actually my high school’s color, too. So I was #TeamPurple for years … and then it just happened that I went to the Vikings as a pro. When I got drafted, of course, that was the first thing my friends and family joked to me: “No matter what, Kyle, at least you’ll look good.” True.
I’m from Cincinnati, where I don’t think I ever wore a winter coat. That might surprise some people. But we really didn’t, growing up — we would throw a hoodie on and be good to go.
Then I went to Notre Dame.
You might have heard it gets a little cold there.
I’ll never forget my first winter in South Bend. I walked across campus on my way to a morning workout, in a hoodie and sweatpants — Cinci style. And I just … froze. Wind shooting every which way across campus; snow everywhere.
I was like, “Umm … I need a winter coat. I need a big … winter … coat.”
I didn’t mess around. Now I have a giant North Face, fur on the hood — I’m talking absolute Arctic-levels. Some advice from a pro: You’ve got to have the hood. Got to. Not optional. For me, since I have a buzz cut, I go one step further: I’ll do a hat over the head and ears … and then the hood on top of that. It’s serious.
In past seasons, I haven’t had to deal with much of the winter in Minnesota. Most of the NFL season is in the fall, and then I hightail it to California after. But this season, I have bigger plans — and they involve some football games in Minnesota in January. I’ll be ready.
Everyone has a favorite t-shirt, and mine is one that takes me back to my roots. It has text that says, “Where I’m From,” inside a graphic of the state of Ohio. And so on a personal level it means a lot to me. But then besides that: It’s just really, really, really comfortable. If you can get “comfort” and “repping your hometown” out of a t-shirt, then you’ve done pretty well. That’s Favorite T-Shirt material. Hold on to that one.
I’ve always been a huge fan of watches. Even in high school or college, when I had no money, if I could find a nice 10 or 15 dollar watch that looked cool, I got it.
But the Breitling — man. That’s the one I wanted. It was so big and cool and clean. I first saw it in a magazine, when I was in high school. I just remember seeing a picture of it, flipping through the pages, and it really jumped out at me. One day, I thought. One day.
When I was fortunate enough to sign my rookie NFL contract, the first thing I did, of course, was take care of my parents. I made sure that they were completely debt-free, and that I showed them how appreciative I was for everything they had done for me throughout my life, to get me to a place where I could fulfill my NFL dream.
After that, I didn’t go wild spending money. I know how important it is, in the league, to be smart with one’s finances. I wasn’t out there buying myself presents left and right.
But then, the funniest thing happened.
During my rookie year, a bunch of us from the team went to Jared Allen’s Wounded Warriors charity auction event in Minneapolis. It’s a really great event, and Jared does the best job with it. He just goes above and beyond for the veterans and his foundation. But anyway: I’m sitting there, looking through all of this stuff that’s up for auction … and sure enough, one item catches my eye.
The Breitling watch from the magazine.
Big and cool and clean. The one I’d always wanted.
And I just thought to myself: Well, this is it, right? This is meant to be. I’m getting this watch.
I knew what it would cost me to go into a store and buy the Breitling, so as the bidding started I had that number in mind. But — just like in the movies, when there’s that one item at the auction that the main character wants — I ended up having some competition: Fred Evans, my former Vikings teammate.
It was on.
And so Fred and I bid against each other, and bid against each other, going higher and higher … but I was just not going to be denied. Eventually, we blew so far past the retail value of the watch, that they ended up giving both of us watches.
So it was a happy ending. I got my Breitling, the money went to a great cause, and — most importantly of all — I put my teammates on notice: never come between a man and his watch.