This is a story about best friends who took a similar career path, and ended up on opposite sides of a passionate rivalry.
It's the story of how one of them, Derek Rinehart, went from assisting Derek Lewis in the Columbian athletic department a year ago for college credit to working today in Arlington, Texas, at the biggest American sporting event of the year, and how fellow 2005 TC graduate Robert Kisabeth ended up working for his favorite NFL team.
It's about doing something you love, and working hours that would make most people crazy.
But in the end, it's two kids from Tiffin, not long out of college, who are working for NFL teams as equipment assistants.
Much has changed for the two, but the friendship remains.
Robert Kisabeth has spent his life around sports. He's the son of Larry Kisabeth, the Columbian girls basketball coach. He played football as well, but basketball was his sport. He played basketball at Defiance College for a while, but transferred to Bowling Green, where he was able to work in his other major interest: sports apparel.
"I've been into shoes, uniforms, that kind of stuff," said Kisabeth.
He was able to volunteer with the equipment manager at Bowling Green, Joe Sharp, and found himself working 50 hours a week, learning the trade.
"I learned a lot about how things work," Kisabeth said. "Fitting guys [for uniforms], that kind of stuff."
In 2008, Kisabeth drove to Chicago for a convention for equipment managers in sports. He made some connections there, and began helping out with the Cleveland Browns in their 2008 training camp in Berea as an intern.
Rinehart also started working with equipment at Bowling Green after transferring from Muskingum. He played football for the Muskies before transferring. After coming back to northwest Ohio for college, he started working with his old friend.
"We both went to high school, middle school, and our families have been friends since we were born, and we were like brothers," Rinehart said of his friendship with Kisabeth. "Robert was into (working in equipment) before I was. [The equipment manager at BG] was looking for help on gamedays, Robert told him about me, and he offered it to me, to come in and help on gamedays."
Rinehart was set to graduate last May, and sent out rsums to a number of teams and Division I schools. One of the places he sent information to was the University of Pittsburgh.
The university, which uses the same stadium as the Steelers, sent his information to them. Eventually, Rinehart was brought in as an equipment intern. When he was reached for this story, Rinehart was in Texas, preparing for today's Super Bowl against the Packers.
"It's been a dream to make it and be a part of the big game," Rinehart said. "I never thought I'd be this quick. We had last week off, but we still had practice. It didn't hit me at first, but when we landed at Fort Worth, it hit me, seeing all the media. It's exciting. I never thought I'd be in this position."
The positions the two hold are similar, and each has plenty of interaction with players.
"My first day, I was star-struck," Kisabeth said of his start with the Browns. "I was standing in the equipment room, and [then-Browns receiver] Braylon Edwards walked in. He was like, 'Hey I'm Braylon, how ya doin?'"
Kisabeth was able to get over being around star athletes. He had to.
"I learned a lot more with the Browns," he said. "They threw me into the fire, had me run the [yardage] sticks at practice. I'd never done that. It was intimidating. The first thing they told me was always be moving."
In his first season working for the Browns, Kisabeth did mainly laundry.
"All their stuff has to get cleaned," he said. "It's a pretty tight ship there."
Now in his first season with the Steelers, Reinhart has had some similar duties.
"When I first got there, we were in OTA's (organized team activities)," Rinehart said,. "They were practicing three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, a four-week thing. (Players) wanted balls thrown to them or work with a machine. I was in charge of doing that with them.
"I'm in charge of changing all the decals on the helmets, taping shoulder pads,and getting all the scratches off."
Kisabeth has stayed with the Browns, and he's a full-time part of their staff. He will have worked with three head coaches. He interacts with all the players, figuring out how they like their uniforms and getting them done to match their needs.
"Almost every uniform, everything the players are wearing is custom to their specifications," Kisabeth said.
His main focus is working with quarterbacks.
"I'm very close with [Browns' QBs] Colt [McCoy] and Jake [Delhomme] and Seneca [Wallace]," Kisabeth said. "I have to check with them every week."
Part of that job requires knowing how each quarterback likes their football.
"I brush the balls. I take a clay mixture, basically infield from Progressive Field [where the Indians play]. I wait for that to dry, I give it a little bit of shine and a nice grip," he said. "You have to learn what player likes what, tailoring to their needs."
Knowing what each player wants became important when Eric Mangini became Browns' coach in 2009. Mangini had Kisabeth snap the ball to the quarterback in 7-on-7s, something Kisabeth had never done.
"The QB actually takes snaps from me," Kisabeth said. "I had to learn the cadences [of the quarterbacks]. I had to snap a ball, facing a defensive front, I had to learn his count. I snap the ball left-handed, and [former Browns QB] Brady Quinn told me my spin was wrong."
Kisabeth eventually got the hang of it, though. Since starting in '08, he has seen three Browns head coaches. He said the turnover at that spot didn't worry him.
"I was assured by our bosses, assured our jobs were safe," he said.
What has Kisabeth more worried is the labor dispute between the players and owners. While the focus may be on whether the players are on the field, jobs like Kisabeth's and Reinhart's could be in jeopardy if there's no football next fall.
"That's between the players and the owners," Kisabeth said. "The only thing we can [figure is] how can we cut costs, cut spending without cutting jobs."
Kisabeth said it's possible he could be out of work for a while if there's a lockout. As for what's left of this season, he said he'll be watching for Reinhart on the sideline today.
"We talk three, four times a week," Kisabeth said. "We just talk about what we're doing, the things we have to do.
"I'm happy for him, in his first year, he gets to go to the Super Bowl."
Despite being on different sides of an intense rivalry, Rinehart said the relationship hasn't changed.
"It hasn't affected our friendship at all," he said, noting that the two hung out when the Browns came to Pittsburgh in October.
Rinehart has one more season as a Steelers intern. After that, he said he's hoping to keep working in the field.
"My goals for the future: I want to stay in this business, be an equipment guy," Rinehart said.
Kisabeth said he also enjoys his job and wants to stay in it, despite the seven-day work weeks that exist from July to January.
"My goals are really to be secure, financially, with job security," he said. "My main goal is to be stable. To move up in this department."