How NFL Quarterback Jersey Sales Nearly Destroyed The Union

The following excerpt comes from Matthew Futterman’s Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution, released yesterday by Simon & Schuster. This excerpt tells the little-known story of NFL executives Frank Vuono and Mike Ornstein, who attempted to thwart the NFL Players Association’s strategy of financing antitrust litigation with revenue from jersey sales by convincing top quarterbacks to instead sign their marketing rights over to the league.

As the 1980s drew to a close and Gene Upshaw, Jim Quinn, and Jeffrey Kessler plotted the players’ next moves, over at the NFL offices on Park Avenue, Frank Vuono was noticing a clear pattern in the league’s licensing business, in particular the jersey sales, which served as the bread and butter for the business. Most of the jerseys fans wanted to buy were worn by a very small number of players. The vast majority of those players played one position: quarterback. In theory, that didn’t surprise Vuono, but the level of dominance was a little startling. People bought the jerseys of Joe Montana, Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Jim McMahon, Dan Marino, and John Elway—and that was about it. A running back or a wide receiver might get hot for a season or two. There were a couple of big-time defensive guys. Lawrence Taylor. Mike Singletary. But the numbers made it clear that if you controlled the quarterbacks, you controlled something like 80 percent of the licensing business. Quarterbacks had always been popular, but this level of domination was startling. It didn’t take a Princeton diploma to figure out exactly what was happening. All those rules Tex Schramm pushed through a little more than a decade before had transformed the NFL into a quarterbacks’ league in every way. To an executive helping to shape the league’s financial strategy, it meant one thing: whoever controlled the quarterbacks would control the football licensing business.

Ads on uniforms? MLB, NHL and NFL not ready to follow NBA — yet

The NBA became the first of the Big Four U.S. pro sports leagues to roll the dice and sell ads on jerseys starting with the 2017-18 season. The move led to speculation the other leagues will follow and that American sports uniforms will start looking like the kits we see in the English Premier League, where the sponsor even gets prominence over the team name.

But the NFL and Major League Baseball say they’re not ready to follow the NBA’s lead — yet.

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Major League Baseball beat a hasty retreat after a public outcry over its plans to put “Spider-Man 2” movie logos on bases back in 2004. MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said baseball is “not considering putting corporate logos on MLB uniforms for games at this time.”

The logo for MLB’s official on-filed outfitter Majestic is on the sleeve of baseball jerseys. MLB has put other corporate logos on uniforms and helmets. But only for exhibition games played outside North America.


Uniform ads are commonplace in European Soccer and NASCAR, but limited in other American sports. (Getty Images)

Beside the NBA, the NHL is viewed as the league most likely to sell ad patches on sweaters. Then again, NHL sweaters are some of the most classic uniforms of any sport. Hockey is not ready to follow basketball into the advertising abyss quite yet.

“Not currently considering ads on game jerseys,” NHL spokesman Jamey Horan said. “Clubs are allowed to do sponsorship deals with their practice jerseys.”

With $13 billion in revenue and the highest TV ratings for any league, the NFL is the least likely to sells ads on its game uniforms. NFL clubs have sold ads on practice jerseys for years. But there is zero consideration for ads on gameday uniforms. “This is not under consideration,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

This is a smart PR strategy by MLB, NHL and the NFL.

They’ll sit back and let the NBA take the hit as the greedy, money-hungry league that’s messing with the last mostly ad-free zone — player jerseys — in favor of the rapacious desire of sponsors to put their logos anywhere and everywhere.

Many fans ripped the NBA for the decision this weekend on social media:

But think about this from NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s point of view.

How much are advertisers willing to pay to have their brand across from the NIke swoosh logo on Steph Curry’s Warriors jersey?

Or LeBron James’ Cavaliers uni?

A lot.

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Once this dam breaks, I predict the NBA’s 30 teams will make $150 million in their first season (which they’ll share equally with players).

The NBA describes the ads on unis plan as a three-year pilot program. But does anybody really think that once the league gives clubs and players a lucrative new revenue stream that they’re going to cancel it at some point? No. This genie’s out of the bottle.

Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, its so-called ad creep: the inexorable advance of ads into every nook and cranny of our lives.

But I think it’s here to say.

Once the other leagues get wind of how much NBA franchises are making off those little 2.5 inch-by-2.5 inch jersey patches, they’ll start selling their own. It’s only a matter of time before NBA, MLB and possibly NFL players start to look more like NASCAR drivers and golfers.

On the other hand, the NBA and other leagues better move slowly and carefully.

There’s nothing more powerful than the loyalty that sports fans have for their teams and their uniforms. As Jerry Seinfeld joked, we don’t root for players. We root for laundry. Mess with that laundry at your own peril.

The Miami dolphins fired coach Philbin

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Second consecutive season with the NFL manager in the London bowl after losing the first round of the team to be fried squid.
The Miami dolphins announced Monday that they have fired handsome Joe (Joe Philbin) philbin. Philbin coach during the dolphins made 24 wins, 28 losses, failed to enter the playoffs, at the end of the season he also unexpectedly have been renewed.

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The team announced the end of the front wing coach Dan – Campbell (Campbell Dan) will become a temporary coach. It is reported that dolphin players are closely related to Campbell, and they will welcome this change.
Considering to the season for the dolphins to the high expectations of value, they the season bad record, but may dolphins lose the way that Philbin lost coach. Last week, the dolphins in the face of the Buffalo Bills games is the worst in team history home opener performance in the London Games for New York Jets without strike back. Misled the people 27-14 score. The whole game in addition to rely on a foul on an opponent dolphins can not advance, defensive attack for the fourth consecutive games without performance.

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According to the report of the dolphin players treat Philbin not treat the coach’s respect. He had a bad relationship with the players. In the nearly four years of coaching time Philbin have many problems. The 2013 season was destroyed by the scandal. Dolphins in the past two seasons are competing for the playoffs in December, the collapse of the seat.
This was originally thought to be different, because the offensive team continue to have a good squad and defensive striker has a lot of talent. But the dolphins in the American League East bottom, they are not in the direction of attack and defense group. Even in victory the dolphins in the first week of their offensive group can not move forward, they promote code number is less than the rival Washington Redskins.

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Dolphin boss on Monday showed him that the current situation is not a problem for the players. It’s his turn to prove that he is right.