In Ethiopia, the Packers won in ’98

The New York Times has a fascinating piece on why you won’t be seeing the t-shirt on the right (photo credit: Barton Silverman/The New York Times) at your nearest Wal-Mart anytime soon. Here’s a neat insight into how the "Super Bowl Champions" shirts and caps end up in the hands of the winning team mere seconds after the game clock runs out:

Distribution is a science. Twelve employees from Reebok and the N.F.L. huddle midway through the fourth quarter and handicap the game. If the score is lopsided, they stalk the sideline of the winning team, keeping the boxes out of sight.

But if the game is close, half the group goes to one side and half goes to the other. Each employee is assigned a star player to outfit. If the Colts win, for instance, someone immediately has to get a shirt and cap to quarterback Peyton Manning. If the Bears win, someone has to find linebacker Brian Urlacher.

This can be a difficult job, dodging joyous 300-pound linemen. But the advertising potential is priceless. Once the scoreboard clock hits 00:00, clothing manufacturers around the country start churning out championship merchandise. If Manning is seen wearing a T-shirt Sunday night, it will be flying off shelves in Indianapolis by Monday.

Read the article for more about where the losers’ clothing ends up, and why the Buffalo Bills (four-time Super Bowl defeatees) have quite a following in Romania.

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