It was only a few weeks ago that speculation among NBA fans heated up regarding professional basketball's decision to move all NBA league logo's to the back of the team jerseys. The league said it was a purely cosmetic decision. How chic of you, NBA. However, new commissioner Adam Silver found time in between crossing his fingers that Donald Sterling wouldn't say anything else about minorities or Magic Johnson, to be quoted calling a move toward placing ads on jerseys as "inevitable." This would represent a significant shift in the treatment of the hallowed jersey in American sports lore, as none of the big four leagues currently use them. However, if the money currently being made in European soccer leagues through sponsorship space on jerseys, upwards of $155 million per season for many Premiere League teams, is any indication, the NBA likely would not be the last of the four sports to adapt.
It has been a few years since NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, addressed the topic, being careful to quash concerns over the jersey-ad premise. But this is the man who presided over a ruling that banned goal post dunking. He is not to be trusted. Largely, it seems odd that American sports would possess such a unique world view on the subject. Given that essentially every developed nation uses ads on their various sports league jerseys, one would think the United States would have hopped on that gravy train from the start. You've got a broken leg, son? Here's some Vicodin, now get back in there! You want to sell ad space on the uniforms? Why, that would ruin the sanctity of THE GAME™.
There seems to be an inherent hypocrisy in this mindset that I myself have shared. The NFL, similar to baseball it seems, values heart over virtually anything else. The player holding out for a fair contract is violating his word. The running back who plays through a leg injury that could affect his ability to walk in years to come? Well, he's got balls. "No guts, no glory" is more than a platitude in the NFL. This sort of mysticism is the only thing that keeps ads off of football jerseys. But when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake? College football is ready to trot out the Capital Twelve Doritos Roundup Hotels Bowl next year and those kids aren't even paid. For a sports world that seems ready to profit in any way possible, which is somewhat the inherent nature of "professional" athletics, this all remains curious. As ticket prices for pre-season games even continue to rise to unreasonable levels, it almost makes you feel like the jersey is more sacred than the fan.
This all being said, ads on jersey's does not bother me, really. I continue to enjoy Manchester United's brand of footy in the English Premiere League, even with those pesky ads front and center. It has no affect on the product - the game. The jerseys are fantastic examples of team and city pride, but its not as if my crap Adidas, iron-on Haloti Ngata jersey didn't cost me $80 anyway. Maybe if they throw some ad space on there, the league could lower those ticket prices or sell me a hot dog for less than the price to send a child to Yale. LOL just kidding, screw you. The market dictates!
So with this in mind, who would be the most likely candidates to purchase that sponsorship space on the Baltimore Ravens uniforms should the league open up to ads? Let's take a look at some fun ones.
Natty Boh - This will never happen. Never. But it's fun to imagine. In Europe teams are sponsored by beer brand like Carlsberg. And it's not as if the NFL has anything other than a thin facade of love for the alcohol industry But if the teams are opening up to ads they are REALLY opening up to ads. All your hopes of the local, cheap brew adorning your favorite team's gear would go out the window as Miller Light's new "Drinkable" beer gets emblazoned across the chest. If we're lucky they'd at least sell to Coors (the banquet beer). Get us some of that Sam Elliott money.
M&T Bank - It's certainly possible for the namesake of our stadium (ad space would ruin the game!) would throw its hat in the ring and continue its domination of all things Ravens. But I don't think the bank would go for it. If the Ravens stand to make even half of what some of those English teams make, they probably don't throw their name in the ring addition to stadium naming fees. That's a lot of dough. Maybe PSI Net goes live and reclaims some hold in the Baltimore community!
Joe Temarchio's Mr. Tire - Please. Please let this happen. Just let it happen.
No unfortunately, one imagines that if the NFL's jerseys ever go up for ad space, the local Baltimoreans won't get much of a part in it. More than likely, a national brand like General Motors will buy that stuff up and have to recall the jerseys for leading roles in "at least" 13 player concussions.
What do you think? Will the Raven's ever have ads on their jerseys? Should they? Who would you like to see on the ol' purple and black?