Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport

By Michael Oriard | Go to book overview

5
FOOTBALL AS PRODUCT

To a short list of milestones marking the creation of the new nfl—May 7, 1982, when Al Davis won the right to move his franchise; February 25, 1989, when Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys; May 6, 1993, when the owners and players finally signed a labor agreement—should be added July 12,1994. On that day, the NFL announced that Sara Levinson, former copresident of MTV, had been hired as the new president of NFL Properties. This seemed like news of the you've-got-to-kidding sort. The president of a cable network feeding highly sexualized music videos to teenagers, and a woman as well, would head the NFL division that markets to fans of huge guys who grunt and sweat a lot. The significance of Levinson's hiring was perhaps mostly symbolic. MTV represented the cultural forces against which the NFL had held up a bulwark since the 1960s. The NFL was also, at all levels, overwhelmingly a men's club. Hiring Levinson to market professional football represented a decision at the highest levels that NFL football was no longer your father's Sunday pastime.

Explanations followed. MTV and Levinson represented two potential audiences that the NFL coveted, young people and women. Her hiring, however, confirmed something more fundamental: that the NFL now openly regarded itself as a “brand” and pro football as a “product” to be marketed.


Before Levinson: Public Relations and
the Iron John Super Bowl

Levinson's marketing and branding of NFL football built on the structures Pete Rozelle put in place in the 1960s. Having inherited the arrangement Bert Bell made with Roy Rogers Enterprises, Rozelle created the league's own

-175-

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Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Creation of the Modern Nfl in the 1960s 10
  • 2: No Freedom, No Football 55
  • 3: The End of the Rozelle Era 95
  • 4: The New Nfl 140
  • 5: Football as Product 175
  • 6: Football in Black and White 210
  • Conclusion 250
  • Notes 259
  • Acknowledgments 309
  • Index 311
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