Many football teams around the country have a specialty item that they pass around to help encourage the defense, but I don’t think anyone has ever seen anything like they have down at the University of Miami. Thanks to a “bling-creator” named AJ Machado, the Hurricanes have developed an entirely new device that’s created a spark for both players and fans alike.
Machado is a professional jeweler, and when Miami’s defensive coordinator Manny Diaz decided he needed a fresh way to incentivize his players to be more hungry for the ball, they decided to call Machado and see what he could do. Other teams like Alabama use a heavyweight belt that players pass around when they get a turnover, but no one had ever developed a chain.
And it is more than just a chain — it’s 36 inches around and 5.5 pounds, with a 10-karat-gold Cuban link chain that has a gigantic “U” dangling off of it. The “U” is stacked with green and orange sapphire stones, making everything about this flashy piece of jewelry something that will catch your eye.
The fascinating relic, which took two weeks to construct, was then presented to Diaz and defensive director of player development, Joel Rodriguez, and both were shocked at the flamboyance of the chain.
“Literally, I was at a loss for words,” said Rodriguez. “I was like, ‘That’s the most enormous, gaudy thing I’ve seen in my entire life.’ But it’s supposed to be larger than life. That’s what it’s for.”
Diaz planned to unveil the chain during Miami’s season opener against Bethune-Cookman, displaying it in an old poker-chip case he had at his house. When he showcased the chain to his players, they were awestruck.
After taking the chain out onto the field, the coaching staff patiently waited for the Hurricanes’ first turnover, which finally came in the fourth quarter during an interception by Malek Young. Immediately, the team turned to the coaches to hand out the swag-filled chain. The problem was Rodriguez couldn’t tell who had gotten the interception.
“I’m trying to wade through the crowd, get to the case, open it and also, as I’m doing that, I look up to the corner Jumbotron to see who has the ball in their hand,” Rodriguez said. “It wasn’t an efficient operation. By the time I figured out who it was, they were on me already. ‘Where’s my chain?'”