Last week, while shopping at the local sports store for some Patriot items, I ran into a couple who were New York Giants fans.
After the initial friendly "smack talk", was exchanged, he told me that he owned a New York-style pizza parlor in Glendale, AZ, the home of Super Bowl XLII. (Oops, I mean "Big Game 42.")
Well, a few days later my wife and I happened to be in the area, we live in Phoenix, and I decided to drop in. We exchanged greetings, a little more smack talk, and we ordered a pizza.
My wife has a very limited menu of foods that she can eat, so we ordered a half and half, hers an "all white" half, and mine loaded with mushroom and anchovies.
And then we got into conversation with Andrew, the Giants fan and owner of the restaurant.
He told us of the big party he was having on Super Bowl Sunday and the restrictions that were placed on him by the NFL. He was told that he can NOT hang a banner in front of his store that had the words "Super Bowl" on it. He could not use the words "Super Bowl" in any promotion of his event.
And it goes beyond that. He is not permitted to use the words "Patriots or Giants" on any banner, signs, or anywhere else on his property regarding his party.
He can use "Big Game," New York, New England, but can not even show a picture of the Lombardi Trophy.
By the way, the pizza was awesome, and even though Andrew has a rare disease called "New York Giantitis," I will return for more pizza.
Continuing with the control that the NFL, hereinafter referred to as the Fifth Reich, I came across the following this morning while perusing through my Sunday newspaper, the Arizona Republic.
There were ads all through the flyer section—you know, the department stores, grocery stores, etc.—and not one of them used the term "Super Bowl."
Fry's Supermarket, for example, at the top of their big ad as the following: "Big Game Essentials."
The "Port Of Subs had a coupon advertising "Big Game Special."
Target's flyer said "Big Game Special," and on and on it went. Advertisement after advertisement, flyer after flyer, not one of them used the words "Super Bowl," "Giants," "Patriots" or anything that even resembled it.
Even at a big sports store in the Westgate City Center, in Glendale, AZ, just a few hundred feet from the stadium, they are prohibited from using the condemned words.
They have a huge stock of Super Bowl merchandise inside the store, and they had a huge replica of the Lombardi Trophy that they were going to put in their store front but the NFL Brownshirts came and said "Nein," and they took it down. Now it sits in their store room in the back of the store.
Licensing of NFL products, as well as those in all of the other major sports has gotten out of control, out of hand.
I understand that there is a huge investment, but now it seems that it has gone way beyond any sense of fair play.
I recently was given gifts of three great jerseys on eBay. You know, the kind that has everything sewn on, are called "authentic," and have all the Reebok labels on them, and so on.
They were bought for prices that are 75 percent lower than if they had been purchased them in a licensed store.
Are they knock-offs? Sure, they probably are, but they look, and feel, as good as the "real" ones you can purchase for about $200 each. It was less than $100 for all three, Maroney, Bruschi and Moss.
Do I, as a fan, care if they are knock offs? Hell, no. All I know is that they look great and wear great and mucho bucks were saved.
The manager of that sports store in Westgte Center told me that they are selling all licensed merchandise, and believe me, they have bundles and bundles of it, at suggested retail price, but if you wait to buy the same stuff in the Stadium, or on stadium grounds, you will pay double the price.
Unfortunately that is what the Super Bowl has become...
Oops, once again I slipped up. Of course, I meant to say "The BIG Game."
A mecca for the dollars, for the rich and famous, for the wealthy, most of whom would not know the names of three players on either team, once you got past the Bradys, Mannings, Mosses and so on.
Ticket prices, the face value, for this year's BIG Game are $700 and $900, surely out of the range of the greater majority of real fans.
And, if you try to buy them out on the resale market, you spend anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 per ticket. Real fans are no longer a part of the BIG Game.
And those "official" Super Bowl parties—yes, they can say "Super Bowl," well, don't even bother to look at the ads, the admission fees will knock you out of your unlicensed socks.
And those that do pay those big bucks with the hopes of talking with a Jessica Simpson, or other big name celebrities—forget it, they don't even know you are there.
So, what we now have is a different NFL once BIG Game day rolls around.
Be careful if you are walking the streets of Glendale, Arizona, or in proximity of the Stadium. Don't under any circumstance utter the words "Super Bowl" or "Patriots"—because before you know it, you will be under the control of the NFL's Brownshirts, and it wont be a pretty sight.
Where is Jack Bauer when needed?