ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Marvin Jones has a fancy wedding ring -- more showpiece than a usual display of marriage. More than a typical gold, silver or tungsten band, it’s made of metal and has diamonds.
It’s the type of ring worn on special occasions; something he wanted to avoid wearing all the time because he didn’t want to lose or damage it. As an NFL player, Jones needed a more functional ring on a daily basis.
Jones found the answer, thanks to his former quarterback, Andy Dalton. Dalton caught grief on "Hard Knocks" in 2013 for wearing a rubber wedding ring. Jones asked about the ring -- actually made of silicone -- and after he got married he picked one up for himself.
Now, Jones wears it daily.
“You always want something there, but you might not want the metal,” Jones said. “The risk of what we do and stuff like that; our hands are tangled up on almost every play, so you want to have something where you can just pull it off or cut it off if something happens.
“And when you’re going out and say you’re in the lake or something, you don’t have to worry. It eliminates worry.”
The silicone wedding band is a growing trend around NFL locker rooms. Kirk Cousins wears one. So do Dalton, Derek Carr, a host of Detroit Lions and others. KC Holiday, the founder of QALO, one of the bigger silicone ring brands, estimates at least 100 NFL players are wearing his company’s rings. And there are other brands, too.
There are multiple reasons the silicone rings are growing in popularity.
There’s the convenience factor of never having to remove the ring to play in games or lift weights. There’s also safety -- a broken ring finger could become a big issue if the metal ring has to be cut off.
“I’ve heard too many gruesome stories from that,” said Lions linebacker Kyle Van Noy, whose wife, Marissa, bought the ring for him. “So I just went for the rubber one because I’m able to wear it all the time. I don’t have to take it in and out getting into the shower or working out.
“I just put my gloves right over and take them off. I have it 24-7. That’s my normal ring.”
The rings come in multiple colors, and Van Noy's white one allowed him to prank friends by telling them he has a wedding ring made of ivory. Some people, he said, actually believed him. Jones has a gold one. Other players switch up colors.
The price is also a plus: QALO rings range from $20 to $50. They have become a way for players to be proud of being married while wearing something functional instead of risking their fingers.
“I’m cheap and this is cheaper than a traditional ring,” Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. “Some guys like it because you can change colors. I obviously don’t do that. With my life, I play sports and football so I’m always sweating. Lifting weights, so clanging it against dumbbells and stuff like that. So I always had to take it on, take it off, take it on, take it off. Where did I put it? This and that.”
The traditional ring became an annoyance for Orlovsky. If he went to the gym and still had it on, he tied it to his shoelace. When he heard about the silicone ring, he was in.
Orlovsky hasn’t worn his traditional wedding ring in two years but has a small baggie with four silicone rings he can pop on at any time. A story like Orlovsky’s is kind of how QALO started.
Holiday and Ted Baker were working together at Porta Via, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, in 2012. Both were recently married with the same issue: They weren’t comfortable wearing their rings. Holiday suffered blood blisters from golfing and weightlifting, sometimes going days without wearing his ring.
So an offhand conversation at the restaurant one day led to a brainstorming session, research and then an idea.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we actually start a business. Let’s go for it.’ He said I was crazy,” Holiday said. “... We were newlyweds, and starting a business as newlyweds is a horrible idea just because of the stress that comes along with it. I said, ‘Let’s actually do this. Let’s go for it.'
“I wanted something where I could just feel like I was working towards and building.”
Holiday, the founder, and Baker, the CEO, focused on military, firefighters and NFL players -- three professions they figured could get the most usage out of a silicone ring.
Holiday reached out to then-NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer, a high school friend, to see if he’d be interested. Palmer began wearing the ring, and after retirement he started working for QALO, an acronym that stands for Quality Athletics Love Outdoors.
Dalton started wearing his ring because of a friendship Holiday had with Dalton’s wife from their time together at TCU. The "Hard Knocks" episode gave the rings unexpected attention and grew the company.
“It was a really cool moment for us,” Holiday said. “And one of those freakout moments for myself as the founder of a company where you’re like, ‘Hey, this might actually work.'"
Players saw Dalton’s ring and heard about it through word-of-mouth in locker rooms. Soon, the rings started to pop up on more pro athlete fingers. That’s how Lions center Travis Swanson discovered them -- from his former teammate, Braxston Cave. Swanson's silicone ring gave him another way to remember his motivation -- his wife, Emily -- on game days.
And it gives athletes another way to show commitment.
“For me, when you’re married, you’re supposed to wear a ring,” Lions running back Zach Zenner said. “That’s my preference, opinion, however you want to say it.
“So I’m going to wear one at all times that I can, and this rubber ring allows me to do that.”