The NFL has an 'L' of a problem - Ingles

The NFL is four years away from its 50th Super Bowl, which means it is already trying to plan around a peculiar self-inflicted marketing nuisance: How can the world's most powerful sports league get around putting a big, fat "L" on hundreds of thousands of souvenir T-shirts?

The first thing the winning players will do when Sunday's game ends is drape themselves in celebratory gear emblazoned with the Super Bowl logo. This year, that logo consists of the Lombardi Trophy above the silver Roman numerals XLVI.

But come 2016, the Roman numeral for Super Bowl L happens to be the lone letter that most connotes losing.

"Wouldn't that be a nice time to switch over to Arabic numerals?" said Bob Dorfman, the executive creative director for Baker Street Advertising.

This enormous American sporting event is the only spectacle of its kind that takes its nomenclature from the ancient Romans. Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle never could have imagined the behemoth that is the modern NFL when he resorted to these numerals in 1971 for Super Bowl V. Back then, they helped distinguish between the different calendar years of the regular season and the Super Bowl while adding an air of grandiosity to the fledgling championship.

The NFL is four years away from its 50th Super Bowl. How can the NFL get around putting a big, fat "L" on hundreds of thousands of souvenir T-shirts? Ben Cohen joins digits. Photo: Getty Images.

The NFL has come a long way since the days when the Super Bowl needed an injection of hype. Now the Roman numerals are "part of the mystique of the Super Bowl," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

Even more unlikely than the Super Bowl's ascent to the top of the annual TV ratings chart is the fact that the league is dealing with a problem that's been made infinitely worse by a show about a high-school glee club.

In the 2003 book "Field Guide to Gestures," the "loser gesture" was referenced as forming the letter L on your forehead with your index finger and thumb. The book offered a five-step primer that ended: "Say 'loser' with derision, generally elongating the first syllable."

The sign has perpetuated in movies and TV shows since at least the 1990s. The book traced the lineage to the 1994 movie "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," starring Jim Carrey. A year earlier, the L had a cameo in "The Sandlot," in which the bespectacled baseball player Michael "Squints" Palledorous referred to another character as an "L-7 weenie" as he formed a diamond with two Ls. Kelly Preston's character famously made the sign to Tom Cruise in 1996's "Jerry Maguire." And the poster for the 2000 movie "Loser" depicted Jason Biggs showing off the L on his own forehead while wearing a fur-trapper hat.

Most recently, the symbol was featured in promotional materials for "Glee" and has become something like a secret handshake for "Gleeks" since the show's 2009 premiere.

The gesture is so universal that some brand experts believe the 50th Super Bowl might emphasize those pleasingly round Arabic numerals more than the traditional Roman ones.

"Who knows? They may not use the L," said Tony Ponturo, the CEO of Ponturo Management Group, a sports consulting firm. "I don't think they'll walk away from the L, but I have a feeling they'll figure out a way to incorporate the 50th anniversary."

The NFL hasn't announced the host city for the 50th Super Bowl, but it has begun talks about Super Bowl L and "those types of details," McCarthy said. He added: "I'm doing that signal to my friend right now."
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The official Super Bowl logo has evolved over the years from a simple text logo to a graphical multicolor concoction. Last year, for the first time, the Lombardi Trophy was incorporated into the insignia. It was included again this time.

In the next four years, the NFL may unearth new means of interpretation for the L. McCarthy dryly noted it could stand for "learning" or "love." Just as Super Bowl XL in 2006 was tailor-made for apparel, Dorfman suggested the NFL could spin Super Bowl L as the largest Super Bowl ever.

Then there is the option of awarding Super Bowl L to a city that might integrate the Roman numeral into a logo. Colts owner Jim Irsay said this week that London remained a possibility for Super Bowl L. The site of the first Super Bowl, Los Angeles, currently lacks an NFL franchise but is considered a contender for the 2016 game. "We're well aware of where the first Super Bowl was held," McCarthy said.
NFL Playoff Dossiers

This won't be the first time the NFL has tackled issues pertaining to Roman numerals. In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld the Children's Internet Protection Act, a law that required schools and libraries to censor parts of the Web, even as librarians pointed to filters that blocked searches for Super Bowl XXX. There is nothing sexy-sounding about Super Bowl XLVI, but the longest sequence of Roman numerals in the game's history, XXXVIII in 2004, produced a game between the Panthers and Patriots that was arguably one of the best ever.

One outfit that won't have to worry about the L is Reebok. The Adidas subsidiary will be replaced after this Super Bowl by Nike, which declined to comment about its future partnership with the NFL, as the official manufacturer of league apparel.

"L standing for loser with a Nike swoosh right above it—I love that," said Blake Lundberg, general manager of Adidas' sports licensed division.

This article was written by Ben Cohen and appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by Necesitamos Mas Football on 18:52. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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