Bob Decker, the One-Man Army

Bob Decker, the One-Man Army
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Bob Decker is entering his 15th season as the Buffalo State football team’s equipment manager
See all 2 photos
Decker is also entering his 15th season with the Buffalo Bisons as a member of their staff.

Entering his 15th season this spring with the Buffalo State football team, equipment manager Bob Decker has proven to be a loyal and dedicated professional throughout the duration of his career.

Decker has shown that he is reliable and due to his experience, he is always prepared in the event that a player will forget something. He is also able to fix a player’s equipment quickly enough that a player won’t miss much time during the game.

“Bob is well-versed when it comes to equipment and he’s a detail guy,” head coach Jerry Boyes said. “The biggest asset Bob brings to us is his reliability and his commitment to helping out the players. On Saturday if for some reason there’s a helmet malfunction or a string breaks or something like that, he’s there to make sure that someone doesn’t lose any time in the game.”

Decker began his career as a trainer intern at the Buffalo Bills’ Kids camp in 1993 and since then he has gone on to working for professional teams such as the Buffalo Blizzard, Buffalo Gladiators, Buffalo Stampede, Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Bisons and Buffalo Destroyers.

However, in 1997, Decker landed the equipment manager position with the Buffalo Wings’ roller hockey team which coincidentally practiced here at Buffalo State College.

During those practices, Decker met the recently deceased trainer and softball head coach Sandy Hollander. He made quite the impression on her and a year later when the Bengals’ had an opening for an equipment manager position in 1998, he was the first qualified person they asked.

“They had a problem with the previous guy,” Decker said. “Sandy said to Jerry let me call Bob and she told me they wanted me to come in for an interview with Jerry. I met Jerry in the hall and he said Sandy says you’re pretty good. I said yes sir, I am. He said ok, I’ll see you Monday.”

Since that day, Decker has remained an employee at Buffalo State as the official equipment manager for the football team and has certainly made life easier for equipment manager Brent Ford.

“If Bob wasn’t here and we didn’t have anyone to be equipment manager for football, I don’t know what I’d do. Bob is the one-man army. You see other schools come in and they’ll have an equipment guy with a couple of other people helping him out. When Bob goes on the road, he’ll be all by himself. Bob does everything. I respect Bob a lot.”

Decker also currently works with the Buffalo Bisons as their equipment manager and while helping out with the Buffalo State spring practices, he has also been spending time at the ballpark helping the Bisons get ready for their Home Opener on Wednesday April 11 at 2 p.m.

The schedule for Decker can be described as hectic sometimes, but he never lets it interfere with his work.

In fact, Decker was put in a tough position by the Bisons this past week when he had to remove almost all of the players’ bags off of the bus. The Bisons were getting ready to start their season in Pawtucket and were getting ready to leave that day.

“We had already packed the bus and we don’t put the bags on the bus in numerical order, said Decker. “The manager came out and said Josh Stinson just got claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers, do you know where his bag is? It was on the bus. So how do you get bag 19 off the bus? You pull them all off until you find bag 19. We practically had to unpack the whole bus.”

Despite rare occurrences such as that, Decker loves being an equipment manager and getting the opportunity to watch the growth of athletes in their pursuit of success.

“The thing I love most about being the equipment manager is not really the equipment,” said Decker. “It’s the ballplayers, and the coaching staff. I like hanging out with the kids and watching their success, but then after the game, I enjoy the company of the coaches. Seeing the players succeed though is awesome.”

Aside from his usual duties as equipment manager, Decker also makes coming to football practice more enjoyable for the players.

“Bob brings an added personality and he’s always there for you when you need something,” tight end Zachary Best said. “Bob has all the hook ups and he’s always there to pick you up. He gives you a nice smile every time you greet him, so it’s definitely good to have him around.”