When it comes to creative visionaries, even the tiniest spark can lead to a raging fire if combined with the requisite amount of ambition and inspiration. After all, even the massive Nike monolith in Beaverton once consisted primarily of Phil Knight flipping waffle-sole sneakers out of the trunk of his car.
Under Armour’s inauspicious origins fall right in line: Kevin Plank simply wanted a more effective T-shirt to wear under his football shoulder pads. Plank, a Maryland walk-on who had worked his way up to special teams captain, lamented that cotton shirts got too heavy and uncomfortable in hot weather. He bought some synthetic fabric, had a tailor make him some shirts and started selling them out of his grandmother’s house.
From those humble beginnings, Under Armour has steadily grown into a billion-dollar company–not on the level of Nike, which had a several-decade head start, but a relative powerhouse in its own right. And its founder has designs on growing far bigger in the years to come.
“We have a chip on our shoulder, and that chip doesn’t go away, because there’s not a finish line,” Plank told the Washington Post last November. “It’s not about hitting some number. It’s much greater than that, and frankly, it’s much more purposeful than that.”
Under Armour has expanded its reach over the years, with its now ubiquitous logo worn by budding baseball superstar Bryce Harper, champion boxer Canelo Alvarez, PGA whiz Jordan Spieth, and hoops maestro Stephen Curry. In particular, the Curry One flew off shelves as the Warriors sensation blossomed into an MVP and NBA champion this spring, helping UA’s second-quarter revenues to increase 29 percent over last year.
That said, the company’s bread and butter–not to mention, its original reason for being–has always been football. As the college and NFL seasons launch into full swing, here is a timeline of the Rise of Under Armour’s Influence in Football.
Follow Bryan on Twitter at @sportsangle