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Meet the Man Responsible for Customizing the Raiders' Cleats

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2017

Image courtesy of Bleacher Report.

Bob Romanski bleeds silver and black. His professional career has been encapsulated by the Oakland Raiders and an appreciation for the Davis family.

Romanski has been around the organization since the age of 12, thanks in no small part to his father, Dick Romanski, the team's first ever equipment manager. Bob became a full-time employee himself in 1980.

As the longtime equipment manager, Romanski has worked with countless athletes, forging relationships and ensuring each man's gear is primed and ready to go on game day.

But Romanski's story and talents go well beyond the equipment room. He's a gifted artist who has subtly made his mark on the NFL gridiron for years by customizing cleats, even if he won't admit it.

"I just did it for fun. I've been painting since I was a kid. I've done it enough where I'm good enough to get myself in trouble," Romanski explained to Bleacher Report.

His passion for customization started at age 13 when his brother received an airbrush kit for his birthday. Romanski eventually made his way over to the dormant kit, picked it up and from that moment he was hooked.

Merging art with his love for motorcycles became part of Romanski's life.  "My passion is racing and motorcycle helmets," he divulged. The large canvas of a helmet allowed him to express his artistic ability. It opened the door for a whole new world of airbrush design.

Michael Huff.
Michael Huff.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

However, it wasn't until former Raiders defensive back and University of Texas alum Michael Huff asked Romanski to work on a pair of cleats that he realized footwear was another avenue for expression. "First person was Michael Huff. I did it so subtly because it was against the rules. It had a little Texas Longhorn on it, so he wouldn't get in trouble by it," he mentioned.

Image courtesy of Bleacher Report.

The relationship between Huff and Romanski, one where Huff refers to him as Dad, gave way to countless collaborations. It would also extend past the two men, turning multiple Raiders on to Romanski's talent, including former linebacker Daren Bates.

Bates spent the 2016 season in Oakland. A love of custom cleats led him to Romanski. He asked the Raiders stalwart to help turn his ideas into reality.

The two worked together on a weekly basis to realize that vision before Bates departed for Tennessee during the offseason.

Since then, Romanski has personalized cleats for Amari Cooper, Bruce Irvin, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, just to name a few. He's even been asked to create specialized spikes for the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign, which started in '16 and will continue during Week 13 of the '17 season.

This year, Romanski's altered 25 or 26 pairs for My Cause, My Cleats, including one for general manager Reggie McKenzie. When asked how long the process takes for each pair, he said it ranges anywhere from three to four hours.

When pressed if he would ever work with anyone outside of the Raiders organization, Romanski was blunt.

"It would always be a Raider. I'm no fan of anybody else but the Raiders."

Image courtesy of Bleacher Report.

Look for Romanski's artistic talent and passion for the game to shine throughout the NFL season, especially during Week 13, when the league's focus will solely be on footwear.

      

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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