NFL Officials Keeping Players in Check


By Leslie Crews

Tom Brady caused quite a stir when he covered up the Nike swoosh on his official team sweatshirt with a piece of tape at a press conference last month. As the official uniform provider of the league, Nike’s signature swoosh logo appears on all 32 NFL teams’ practice and game day apparel. Brady, formerly a Nike endorser, signed an apparel contract with Under Armour in 2010. Nike is in the first of its five-year deal with the NFL, and the start has been a little rocky.

Brady is not the only player in the league to hide the Nike logo. Washington Redskins player Robert Griffin III showed some creativity with his cover-up that made headlines during the first week of the NFL season. Griffin, an adidas endorser, wrote the word “heart” down the front left of his practice jersey, where the Nike logo appeared. His efforts to turn the swoosh into an “H” were more entertaining than successful. However, players are warned not to obscure the logos on their official gear. NFL officials reprimanded Griffin for his actions, and Brady will likely receive the same lecture from the league.

Whether the athletes are attempting to detract attention from Nike or draw attention to themselves is uncertain. Griffin in particular, an NFL rookie, may have used the creative cover-up to put himself on the map. Pictures of Griffin wearing the practice jersey were circulating all over the internet immediately following the game against the New Orleans Saints.

According to official rules of the NFL, athletes can wear the logos of brands that they endorse, but those companies must have a contract with the league. On the same token, players are not allowed to conceal the logos of official sponsors of the NFL. Other merchandisers under contract with the league include: Under Armour, New Era, ’47 Brand, G-III, VF and Outerstuff. Athletes that infringe on the rules are eligible for fines. According to officials, Griffin was not fined because the incident occurred during warm-ups, rather than during the actual game, so fewer fans witnessed the cover-up.

Despite their efforts to show loyalty to the brands they actively endorse, Brady and Griffin may be doing more harm than good by taking a stab at Nike. More than anything, the attempted cover-ups have heightened awareness for the brand. Chances are, the one person that did not know the logo behind Griffins poorly written “H”, now knows it was Nike. News sources only aggravated the players’ serious attempts to downplay Nike’s logo, referring to the cover-ups as a “swoosh-ectomy” and “the war against the swoosh.”

Nike’s NFL sponsorship contract is estimated to be worth around $35 million per year. The NFL’s previous on-field apparel deal with Reebok was worth $250 million for the length of the entire ten-year contract. Nike enjoys one of the highest, if not the highest, brand identities in the realm of sports, and it will take more than a piece of tape or a sharpie to conceal that. If anything, the cover-ups and creative uniform decorations have only drawn attention to the infamous logo.

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