League Preparing To Cross The Sponsorship Rubicon?

On the surface, it doesn’t sound like much.  A small patch, on a jersey that wouldn’t even be worn during a preseason game.
But the one small step that the league owners might be taking could end up being the push point for a giant leap into an expanded corporate presence in pro football.
According to Jim Corbett of USA Today, the NFL is considering the possibility of adding corporate logos to practice jerseys.
“It would be similar to logos worn on pro soccer jerseys,” said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, who serves on the league’s business ventures committee.
“The prototype they showed us was no different than the patches they would put on the Pro Bowl jerseys,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said.  “The uniforms in NFL Europe, they had a big logo.  That’s not what we’re talking about.
“We’re talking about something unobtrusive that when the guys are being interviewed, people can can see the sponsor logo on their jerseys.  But it’s no bigger or more obtrusive than the patches worn for the Super Bowl logo.”
In our view, it’s a trial balloon — the first step in what could be an eventual expansion of corporate presence on official NFL game uniforms.
Of course, it’s already occurring.  Reebok logos appear on every jersey, since Reebok manufactures them.  But if the league wanted to use jerseys that had no direct or indirect marketing characteristics (other than the not-so-attractive “NFL Equipment” patch at the neck), the league easily could do it.
The difference here, of course, is that the league would be moving dramatically beyond the advertising that has become so integral to our sportswear that no one seems to mind the fact that we all fork over good money for the privilege of being walking, talking billboards for Nike, Reebok, and UnderArmour (often in some combination of the three).
A bad economy coupled with the ongoing permeation of corporate sponsorships in the world of sports makes the move a no-brainer, in our view. 
And, frankly, we’re not troubled by it. 
Or maybe we’re just numb to it.
And that could be the reality here.  Thirty years ago, the notion of any corporate intrusion into major pro sports would have prompted an uproar, even as stock cars zoomed around the track covered by more sponsor decals than paint.  Today, the gradual blending of sports and advertising, from “official beer sponsorships” to the Rose Bowl presented by Vandelay Industries, and the rise of NASCAR have made the move that the NFL currently is considering seem not shocking but inevitable.
And who knows?  Maybe someday there will be a PFT logo on a Lions jersey.
We can only dream.

58 responses to “League Preparing To Cross The Sponsorship Rubicon?

  1. Just another step in the crap-ification of the NFL. Nice work Roger. Maybe they can also put a sponsorship logo on the flag that defensive players will have to pull off the quarterback instead of tackling him too. That will be great.

  2. DON’T DO IT. Slippery slope. I understand the need for corporate sponsors and what not, but the sponsoring of everything is driving me nuts.

  3. It would be absolutely horrible if corporate sponsorship became as prevalent in pro football as in soccer. Half the time on soccer unis, the corporate logo is bigger than the teams’; it’s ridiculous. Hell even the Arena football teams had that Aaron’s or US Army logo on them, and it looked extremely lame. Stupid greedy owners.

  4. I’m just waiting for Sprint to pay Peyton Manning 100 Million to change his last name to “Sprint”. Chad Javon Ochocinco as precedent!

  5. Bad idea. I dont want to see NFL teams become walking billboards for Pepsi, Ford, Budweiser, etc. I can live with the Reebok and Riddell logos because they are small and they actually make the jerseys and helmets the players are wearing. Those other companies have nothing to do with what they wear in the NFL. It’s bad enough they currently name the stadiums after corporate sponsors now which competely removes their identities.
    The NFL uniforms are the brand identities of the franchises. Why would they tarnish their brand by putting another companies brand on them? You dont see Ford Explorers with Doritos logos on them, and you don’t see Pepsi machines advertising for Freecreditrport.com, etc.
    I would hate to see the NFL teams sell out and lose their team identities like they have in European soccer. When I buy a jersey, I want to think “Pittsburgh Steelers.” I dont want to think “Heinz Ketchup pro football.”

  6. Florio, you just can’t help yourself can you?
    You did it again with that comment about a PFT logo being on a Lions uniform.
    Now someone is going to call you a Lions hater again. I’ll give it less than 10 posts before someone calls you out on it.

  7. So, if player jerseys wind up with logos eventually, does that mean that if I buy a replica of said jersey, I get the corporate logo also? What would be funny to see is stuff like Toyota putting their logo on Lions jerseys.

  8. It’s ok, there is nothing wrong with bashing the Lions. It’s not like they don’t deserve it.

  9. That would be the last straw. Its bad enough there are commercials every two seconds during the game….the pre game shows are full of ads. I don’t think FOX can fit another F-150 ad in their pregame show. I’m sick of it. What happened to “you make the call” or the announcers actually talking about the game during a time out. Put advertisements on the jerseys and this fan is saying goodbye. Enough is enough.

  10. Where can we donate to the “Get the PFT Logo on a Lions Jersey Fund”? Count me in for atleast a buck and a half….

  11. Between Obama and this sort of crap can we all not see the movie Idiocracy coming closer and closer and closer?? If you haven’t seen it go get it TODAY!

  12. Already doing it in the MINOR LEAGUE Canadian Football League which has BEER companies like Molson’s and hotel chains with ads on different teams jerseys.
    They don’t sell enough ads on the telecasts?
    This is just more of the big businesssuits greed that is bringing down the economy.

  13. “Maybe someday there will be a PFT logo on a Lions jersey.”
    The idea behind marketing is to have your brand associated with things the consumer finds desirable. A PFT logo on a Lion’s jersey would announce to the world. “We’re crap and we associate with crap”. Which certainly would be ground breaking since it would be the first time an ad was 100% truthful.

  14. Absolutely hate it. I was in the UK last year and went to a store thinking I’d buy a premier league jersey and I couldn’t tell which jersey was for which team without asking. They are mostly just giant corporate logos with tiny team logos stuck someplace.
    If the NFL goes this route I’ve bought my last jersey.

  15. AIG sounds interested in this venture. DO you realize at Bronco games when a first down is made the PA announcer state’s: “This first down brought to you by wonder bread.”
    I would rather see a patch than put up listening sponsored first downs.
    Hell, at least we dont have Bengal or Seahawk jerseys.

  16. I believe the Steeler’s 3 diamond logo was the corporate logo of Jones and Laughlin Steel. Maybe putting it on Steelers’ helmets hurt J&L but it didn’t seem to do the Steelers any harm.

  17. Slapping Corporate logos on the uniform will be the end of jersey sales. I would NEVER buy a team jersey with some company logo on it. Never.

  18. Wouldn’t this affect some bigger name athletes that have sponsorships in place? For instance, if Crabtree comes out of college and signs a Nike sponsorship and then his drafted team had Reebok as a sponsor wouldn’t it go against his Nike sponsorship to wear the jersey with Reebok?

  19. My hope is that this is the first step toward coaches wearing sandwich boards on the sideline.

  20. How the hell can Florio write this story and not mention that Sprint is the official blah blah of PFT? I’m disapointed.

  21. I don’t necessarily like the idea either, but am wondering…it the NFL won’t allow anything on the field that’s made outside of the USA, does this mean that forign based companies won’t be allowed to have their logo or patch placed on the field or jersey?
    I suppose, if the patches are ONLY ALLOWED ON THE PRACTICE JERSEY & NOWHERE ELSE, I can probably force myself to stomach it. But in no way shape or form should thses “patches” be allowed anywhere near the game uniform or field.

  22. Vermonk, every team in the NFL currently has Reebok jerseys and it doesnt violate any of the Nike or Adidas sponsorships of some players.

  23. Why not go all the way and scrap the archaic and unprofitable vestiges of the past completley.
    No one misses Candlestick Park.
    Teams should auction off everything every year, the team name, the team logo, the players names on the jersey, everything.
    Why have names like “Steelers” when you could get big bucks for the Pittsburgh McDonalds where the QB Big Mac plays on McNugget Field at McFlurry stadium.
    After all viagraball would still be viagraball with the same blocking, tackling, running etc .

  24. Seriously, nobody should:
    1) be surprised by this, and
    2) be making a big deal about this.
    This is the MODEL for how soccer does thing, and last time I checked that was the most popular sport in the world. This practice is so ingrained in sport culture everywhere except the United States that you will see shirt sponsors for (for example) Italian League Basketball teams and cricket teams in India and South Africa.
    It seems completely counterintuitive that the United States – the country that “invented capitalism” – has demonstrated such an aversion to this practice.
    Bottom line – it will make more money for everyone involved in the NFL. There’s no reason not to do it.
    In fact, this is the perfect solution to life after the death of the salary cap. Owners will no longer have to come up with the money to pay their players. That will be covered by the corporate sponsors.

  25. Let’s see… Can’t hit the QB anymore, DB’s can barely touch a WR downfield with out getting flagged, can no longer make a wedge for kick off returns, can’t celebrate touchdowns any more and now we’re going to start seeing ads on jerseys.
    I have an idea, why not just give in to the whole thing and re-name ALL the NFL teams? Right off the top of my head…
    FedEx Redskins
    Pink Taco Cardinals
    Chevrolet Lions (because Ford would lose out on the bidding)
    Pepsi-Cola Cowboys
    Miller Lite Packers
    Smith & Wesson Bengals
    Gillette Patriots
    Duracell Raiders (in honor of all the battery chuckers out there)
    Or maybe go the other way and give in to the nicknames
    Seattle Boeings
    Minnesota 3Ms
    Buffalo Hooters
    San Diego QualComms
    New York Sprints
    New York Macys
    The possibilities are endless…

  26. I don’t know if any of you have seen international hockey games but the Europeans have giant corporate adds on the front of their helmets above the visor. They are ugly and hideous. Luckily hockey isn’t very exciting so I don’t see it too often except on sport center or whatever.
    That said, I do hereby solemnly swear that any corporate patch I see on an NFL uniform will not get a single nickle of my money.
    I am simply sick and tired of the advertising in sports. The sheer number of television ads on during a football game is already staggering. Add on top of that the multiple mini ads that take place right on the screen during the broadcast. Then add the commentators ranting about how some new show is going to be the hottest new show of the year, often multiple times during the presentation. Fox even tried to trick viewers into visiting a website a few years back by planting a person with a sign in the stands for a website and then showing the person on camera (like they would a normal fan) and having the commentators wonder aloud what the website was all about. I’m sick of it.
    I’m not putting up with any more advertisements during the game. If it matter of saving the game because they were going broke, OK, I love football and would grudgingly accept it then. But they are selling 30 second spots in the SB for millions of dollars. They are signing billions of dollars is broadcasting deals with the networks. They are NOT hurting for money, the game isn’t in trouble, and I am not putting up with it.
    This is the FIRST step. If there is no outrage and people just accept it then our favorite players will look like NASCAR drivers and their cars. I cheer for the New England Patriots – not the New England Big Macs.
    I urge all of you to take the “no more pledge” and swear that you will never reward these scumbags for plastering ads all over our favorite team’s uniforms by refusing to give them business.

  27. I can see a Pat’s or Geno’s Steaks patch on a Eagles jersey all ready!!! Laurie would do it with is cheap a$$!

  28. please…….. god………. no………..
    @5280sports:
    What the hell is wrong with the Bengals jerseys?? Our Uniforms are the only thing on our team that kick some ass…

  29. I’d take the logos if it meant that NFL games would be like soccer games. ZERO commericals except at halftime.

  30. MikeBrown..MurdaYourself says:
    “What the hell is wrong with the Bengals jerseys?? Our Uniforms are the only thing on our team that kick some ass… ”
    Please tell us you’re joking. Those uniforms are an embarrassment. They are a bad cross between a child’s Halloween costume and zubaz. If you’re too young to know about zubaz (consider yourself lucky), here’s a picture of them and the type of person that routinely wore them. Second picture that came up on Google and it really does embody the “zubaz spirit”.
    http://www.goodlookin.tv/news/zubaz_ful.jpg

  31. Might as well start calling it the NASCAR Football League. And if/when this happens I’ll stop spending my dollars on football for the same reason I stopped watching auto racing – I’m not interested in a 3 hour long commercial where the sponsors overshadow the personalities involved.

  32. One small step for addtional revenues.
    One big step for crass commercialism!
    Do they really want 22 pictures of Colonel Sanders
    flying around the field on players hips?
    How about 22 logos for Tylenol Extra Strength
    slapped on 22 backs just under the numbers?
    How great would that be?

  33. DON’T DO IT! im all for making money but a bunch of logos make anything look tacky. one of the reasons why i love the nfl so much is that its not all that “hollywood”. YET at least. i would lose some respect for it/roger goodell if this happens.

  34. Hey, while we’re throwing out bad ideas to increase revenue, why don’t we also consider the following options:
    * Charge fans 25% extra for games that go into overtime
    * Make it illegal to celebrate a good play on the field, with infractions resulting in hefty fines (wait, this one sounds familiar…)
    * Two words: “cover charge”
    * Brand hot dogs at games with corporate logos
    * Sell only “small” beers at games, eliminating the slight savings of buying a larger beer instead of two small beers
    * Start charging a “September 11th security fee” for the pat-downs and bag checks when entering the stadium
    * Disable TiVo capabilities for NFL broadcasts, so that people can’t fast-forward through commercials
    * Paint mammoth logos on top of domed stadiums so that passengers in aircraft get a gratuitous ad shoved in their face while looking out their windows
    * Use only organically-raised animal hide for the leather used in making footballs, and levy an “environmental fee” on tickets
    * Charge more for tickets in sections in close proximity to the cheerleaders in summer months, when their outfits are more revealing
    * Institute a two-drink minimum at games
    * Install juke boxes in stadiums and eliminate the position for the guy who plays “Welcome to the Jungle” in the 4th quarter of every single game
    * Groups of three or more fans walking within two yards of each other constitutes a “wedge” and thus a “wedge fee” would be levied against these hazardous fans, to be used to promote wedge awareness and safety for other fans
    * Invite some crappy band to play at halftime and charge people for both the game and the concert
    * Pass around a free-agent-acquisition offering plate during games
    In the meantime however, I think that the NFL is doing great to whore itself out to corporations a la NASCAR and soccer – two sports that absolutely ROCK! Well, at least they would if there were no other sports in the world.

  35. The difference is that with soccer, you have the lame logos on the uniforms, but as a tradeoff there is NO COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION OF THE GAME.
    No TV timouts in soccer. You keep running until the half is over.

  36. If you’re going to do it, at least be tasteful about it.
    The CFL does it correctly. There is one league wide sponsor (Rona, if memory serves) and one team sponsor (CanadInns in Winnipeg, for example). Both patches are located on the front chest areas, left and right respectively. The CFL has had advertising on either the jersey or helmet since 2001.
    “It would be similar to logos worn on pro soccer jerseys,”
    On the other hand, Soccer and Cricket jerseys are not tasteful at all. Replacing a team crest or player numbers with a corporate logo is incredibly obtrusive and would piss off a large number of traditional football fans, and rightfully so.

  37. logo patches = freaking disgusting
    NFL will buy in and the contract will be for practice jerseys for the next few years then on game day….the money will increase.
    Teams and the NFL will buy in. It’s all about big business and the mighty $. Soon we’ll all look like soccer fans.

  38. For those comparing it to European soccer. There is no such comparison. European soccer has absolutely no breaks in action for full screen commercials during either the first half or the second half. Or the overtime in games where overtime is played.

  39. Also…to those comparing this to European soccer. Soccer is gay. There is no comparison. Thats why Americans hate soccer. I’ve been watching football since childhood and played football through college. I am a diehard fan and love the sport. Put an advertisement on the game jerseys, I will never watch another down.

  40. Author: cromartie
    The CFL does it correctly. There is one league wide sponsor (Rona, if memory serves) and one team sponsor (CanadInns in Winnipeg, for example).

    Not so! Montreal Alouettes have Molson’s Beer ads on their shirts!

  41. For those who are comparing it to European Football and NASCAR, there is one big difference as to why those “ugly” jersey corporate sponsorships are appealing to fans. And that is because that sponsor directly impacts the players who wear that jersey, or the car that is being driven.
    Corporate dollars = better players or a better car.
    Sponsorship loyalty is huge in NASCAR, which is why sponsors pay so much money for their name to be on the car. Because Jimmy Johnson fans will go to Lowes instead of Home Depot.
    The NFL has historically done an awful job of telling its fans why sponsors are important to the league. Advertisements have nothing to do with the NFL, they don’t sell tv ad time (except on NFLN, obviously).
    At least one person brought up how awful it is that he has to go to a football stadium that is named after a company… but here is a thought. I live in Indianapolis. If Lucas Oil didnt lay down a whole lot of change for their name to be on it, I wouldnt be able to go to a game in a brand new, state of the art facility.
    I don’t see sponsors being put on a regular season game jersey, however… unless there is no salary cap… and if there is no cap, believe me, I hope the New York Giants, have a huge golden arch on there jersey. That way when we play the team with that “Pats Cheesesteaks” sponsors, I know we’ll have the better players

  42. Heinekenfun says:
    “Slapping Corporate logos on the uniform will be the end of jersey sales. I would NEVER buy a team jersey with some company logo on it. Never.”
    ……yet you have no problem with the handle “Heinekinfun”…..

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