When will the NFL sell ads for game jerseys?

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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As Mark Cuban said of the NFL 10 years ago, pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered. Still, the NFL has resisted the selling of game-jersey ads for products like, for example, slaughtered hogs ground into pinkish tubes and served on a bun.

Fourteen years after the NFL gave the green light to sponsor patches on practice jerseys, the NFL has not crossed the ad-revenue Rubicon of putting product patches on jerseys.

Of course, there are already three ads on every jersey. One, the Nike logo. Two, any team logos. Three, the NFL shield. But those are organic, not a right-turn of Eat at Joe’s or whatever a team could sell for that space.

Terry Lefton of Sports Business Journal explored the dynamic in a Wednesday newsletter. Other leagues have warmed to the idea of putting ads on game uniforms, and Lefton estimates that the NFL could generate four or five times the amount that the lesser sports realize.

An unnamed long-time NFL team president predicted it won’t happen on the current Commissioner’s watch.

“You tell me the year Roger Goodell’s contract ends and that’s the year ad patches will be allowed in this league,” the source told Lefton. “So, not never, but close to that. The bigger question is when and if this does happen, will it be a league asset or a team asset?”

Lefton suggests that the change wouldn’t happen under the current TV deals, since broadcasters would bristle at the images they purchase being infiltrated by companies that perhaps don’t sponsor the network televising a game. And while Lefton notes that the current deals run through 2033, the owners have the ability to pull the plug before the end of the decade.

Whenever it happens, the teams and the leagues and the broadcast partners will want a taste. I’ve long believed that the NFL could put a green-screen decal on every helmet, allowing a rotation of product logos to be superimposed within the TV broadcasts. That would presumably be money the networks keep, with the ability to sell the ad inventory making the broadcast rights even more valuable.

Every year, it’s a lost revenue opportunity for the NFL. The league surely wishes it had embraced sponsors from the get go, making the presence of names and logos as natural as it is for sports like auto racing.

It seems inevitable. Just like the arrival of naming-rights deals for stadiums, fans would react to ads on game uniforms by huffing and puffing — and ultimately not blowing down their own house of football enjoyment.

21 responses to “When will the NFL sell ads for game jerseys?

  1. “I’ve long believed that the NFL could put a green-screen decal on every helmet, allowing a rotation of product logos to be superimposed within the TV broadcasts”

    What an absolute atrocious take. Just awful.

  2. Ads on jerseys is so trashy and tacky. If anyone should be wearing them like it’s NASCAR, it should be the politicians. How much money do people really need?

  3. I vote for green-screen uniforms, so sponsors can turn Mahomes into a giant bottle of ketchup, turn Josh Allen into a sneaker, or George Kittle into spaghetti and meatballs. I joke, but in 50 years…?

  4. It looks horrible in the NBA and soccer. They will tell it will be only one at first like NBA which now has more than one, but they won’t stop until the players will look like Nascar drivers.

  5. Better solution to the ad problem: Everyone start boycotting products that are over advertised and then there won’t be as many ads everywhere.

  6. No no no no. The NFL has a rich tradition of history and knows that the short term cash flow would alienate viewers. Stop.

  7. Green screen on helmets? The stuff I see on my local hockey broadcast looks distractingly awful, and the boards don’t move.

  8. Better believe they have considered it a million times but there are somethings to consider. They can always milk more money out of Nike or whoever is willing to have the official jersey they sell for … I don’t want to guess, $250 when I still considered buying them. Also NFL owners understand brand. Every NFL logo is a brand. Some symbolize dumpster fires, others put out personas of how they compete. Cluttering that brand might actually be counter productive in the long run.

  9. In addition to my first comment. Budweiser. In this political climate adding any other brand to yours opens yourself to being associated with something by friendly fire.

  10. Anything to squeeze a few more billion in revenue smfh, at some point, they are going to get too greedy for their own good and fans are going to stop watching

  11. Too late, the NFL has already stared blowing down the houses of fans enjoyment with Thursday games and now a Wild Card game! Like MLS with their streaming the majority of their games after leaving ESPN+, I’m starting to enjoy more time to do other enjoyable things!

  12. The future of the NFL is looking similar to the path taken by the English Premier League:

    -Ads on everything
    -Stadium experience priced out of reach for most fans, so the live game is filled in by tourists/rich people who don’t care
    – PPV only, and at ludicrous prices
    – teams are valued so highly that only people whose wealth cane from being implicit in literal crimes against humanity have the funds and reach to afford a one. Obviously they will be buying a team just to park those funds out of reach of authorities and/or launder the money

  13. I can’t wait for this…

    An NFL jerseys resembles the front quarter panel of a NASCAR filled with contingency decals and one of the decals is for NASCAR.

  14. If the end result is lowering costs for the FAN EXPERIENCE, then I say go for it.

    However, I know we can laugh at that situation, because it’ll never happen.

    It’s too distracting. I hate watching soccer for this very reason. There are enough ads already. I can almost understand it with soccer because of the no commercial breaks for 45 minutes each half, but we’re already BURIED with ads during an NFL game.


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