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The Expert

Sweat Savant

Kevin Plank, 32, CEO, Under Armour Apparel

Sunday, February 6, 2005; Page M03

NO SWEAT: When I was a football player at the University of Maryland in the mid-'90s, I never liked the way a cotton shirt would get soaked beneath my pads. Like everyone else on the team, I'd have to change it after warm-ups, at halftime, and sometimes on the sidelines. I thought there should be something better, so I set out to develop it.

TOUCHDOWN: After graduation, when my buddies signed big contracts with the NFL, I never called and asked to borrow money -- instead, I'd say, "Hey, try this shirt and tell me what you think." I'd found a light, silky fabric that wicked away moisture. The other players would make fun of the guy in the tight T-shirt on the first day. Second day, usually after a brutal set of practices, they'd ask if it really worked. Third day, they'd be asking where to find it. The buzz about Under Armour spread through the locker rooms. Now, we hold more than 80 percent of the market share in performance apparel, beating competition like Nike, Reebok and Adidas. We did more than $200 million in sales last year.

WATERBOY: An ordinary cotton tee will hold up to six pounds of moisture. Ours can weigh two pounds less.

DRAFTED: Then in 1999, we were approached by the producers of "Any Given Sunday." We provided gear for the movie and Jamie Foxx became a big fan. He was the first to wear an Under Armour skullcap and our jockstrap, two of our more popular products among football players today.

ALL-AMERICAN: Ever since the Atlanta Falcons ordered gear for their Super Bowl appearance in 1997, the Super Bowl has always been extra special. Our stuff has been worn by one or both teams every year since. We keep fabric in every NFL and NCAA color in our quick-turn shop, just in case a team needs cold- or hot-weather [gear] with a day or two's notice. After all, in playoff time, the outcome of one game can mean playing in Miami or New England the following week. As told to Karen Moore

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