At The Players’ Tribune, we know it’s not just what you’re about on the field, but what you’re about 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 10 items they’ve had in heavy rotation.
Here with this week’s report is Bills quarterback (and sock revolutionary) EJ Manuel.
1. Christian Louboutin shoes
I have two pairs of Christian Louboutin sneakers that I’m really proud of. The first pair is leopard print, and the second pair is a blue, python print. They’re very important to me. You might be wondering why shoes could be so important but you have to keep in mind what they represent. For me, those shoes represent a journey. Growing up, I wasn’t necessarily able to buy that type of shoe. So, it’s not that I’m splurging now on thousands of pairs. But having those two pairs, they’re a memento of all the hard work that it took for me to get from Point A to Point B. I think sometimes people forget that about nice things: It’s not about showing the world you can afford them. It’s about reminding yourself of how far you’ve come so that you could.
2. Foam roller
If you’re keeping track by how often I use something, this might be my most valued possession. I use it four or fives times per day —to roll my shoulders, my legs, my lower back, anything. I always have it with me. If my hamstring is tight, I’ll take out my foam roller, put my hamstring on it, and just roll back and forth. And then it massages that muscle. Simple.
3. Angel statue
It’s probably about a foot tall. Sits right in my living room. I got it from my cousin when I first got into the league, and she basically said, “Hey, I want you to have this in your house at all times. So you always feel like you have an angel watching over you.” And that’s a nice feeling because I do miss my family, my support system, when I’m in Buffalo. It’s not the kind of thing that feels good because you actively notice it — it’s the kind of thing that feels good just because you know it’s there.
4. Alternative Apparel sweatpants
I started shopping at Alternative a few months ago, when I moved up to New York City. Their sweatpants have become one of my go-to items. They’re super-comfortable — but so are a lot of sweatpants. What sets these apart, for me, is that they’re also stylish. That’s big. They’re the type of sweatpants that you can wear to the bar, or to the movies, or to work. Imagine someone telling you, “Hey, you look good” — and you’re wearing sweatpants. You can’t beat that.
5. Picture of my family
From around when I graduated high school. This one’s about continuity — the picture is from seven, eight years ago, and it means a lot to me that we’re still the same way, still love each other, still a tight-knit group. (Obviously we look a bit younger, then — don’t tell them.)
6. Picture of me and Roger Goodell from Draft Day
I think my mom planted that picture, right above my TV. You know how moms are. (Moms are the best.)
7. Beats by Dre boom box
I like to listen to music, pretty much anytime I’m at home — especially when I’m studying, writing up plays for the next day at practice. Headphones are cool, but the way the music sounds coming from a boom box – the way it fills the room – really helps me relax for some reason. It lets my mind just focus on football.
I listen to a bunch of new stuff, lots of hip-hop – I’ve got the Kendrick Lamar, the Drake, the J. Cole – but it’s a little high-energy for the tone I want to set when I study. I actually downloaded some older stuff on iTunes, a little more R&B and lately I’ve really been preferring that vibe: Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire. I’ve been listening to their Greatest Hits albums.
What I like about a greatest hits is that you can just let it play. When I listen to a new record — I’m into it, but there are a few tracks I’ll skip. You put on Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits, though? That’s going to be 30 good songs, front to back. It’s a whole other experience.
8. Nike snow boots
9. Reclining couch
When I first got into the league, I tried to go all retro but with, you know, a modern look: leather couches, that kind of stuff. Thankfully, I realized “looking modern” isn’t what makes a good couch. A couch has one purpose: to be comfortable. So I changed it up. Now I have a big, comfortable recliner. Come home, put my feet up, and just, relax. That’s a couch.
10. Stance socks
A lot of people are sleeping on socks these days. The right socks can tie everything you’re wearing together. When you’re sitting down, and the pant leg comes up — they can be that last, extra piece of style. Stances are dope because they’re not the same colors and patterns you see on every other sock. These are bright and bold. They’ll get you noticed.
And they don’t have to match, either. That’s an important tip. Stressing about matching socks is a rookie mistake. Say if I have a pair of blue and green shoes on? I might have a pair of, like, yellow and purple and red socks. To me it’s all about mixing it up; making it different. Trust me, that’s what socks are for: giving yourself some flare. It’s a chance to be different.