ADVERTISE HERE: What Your NFL Team’s Uniform Ad Says About Them

AFC North Edition

What do you do if you’re a sports team and you’ve maxed out your ad space inside and outside your arena? If you answered, “build a bigger stadium,” then you’re probably Jerry Jones. The correct answer is not one that all leagues are embracing just yet, but it’s a small change that could have major financial impacts: 2.5-inch advertisements on uniforms.

While ads on uniforms already exist in the WNBA and MLS, none of the four major professional sports leagues — the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL — have ever allowed companies to advertise their logo on teams’ game jerseys. That tradition is about to end, however, as the NBA will allow teams to partner with corporations to advertise logos on jerseys in the upcoming 2017–18 season. Currently, six teams are slated to debut ads on their game jerseys.

While teams in the NFL are permitted to sell ads on their practice jerseys, the league has publicly stated that it is not likely to follow the NBA’s lead in the near future. With a massive amount of revenue, there isn’t much of a need for the NFL to allow brands to plaster their logos across the chest of the jerseys worn on Sundays.

Whether you’re for ads or against them, a precedent for uniform ads is being set, and it might not be as long as the league thinks before the sanctity of the NFL jersey is under attack. To give teams a head start, I’ve come up with the ideal sponsor for each franchise:

Cleveland Browns and IKEA

Bleacher Report/Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

When you buy IKEA, you’ll most likely be replacing the pieces within 2–3 years. Do you know who else replaces its pieces every 2–3 years? IKEA is a very successful and well-liked company, so this idea might be a little generous for a team like the Browns. But picking a Port-o-Pot company for their uniform ad would be too simple and boring. I’ll argue that the Browns somewhat mirror the home goods giant in the sense that the product might look good in magazines or online, but the quality is actually trash.

It’s easy to be fooled by how stylish and clean IKEA’s furniture appears, until you get it home and realize how cheaply put together it is. Now I’m not saying the Browns look good on paper right now, but the front office is making the necessary moves to push the team in the right direction. All of this is fine and dandy except once they take the field, the Browns will get exposed for the poor quality of product that they actually are.

Cincinnati Bengals and Jimmy Johns

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This is an ideal marriage between a franchise full of non-law-abiding citizens and a company that prides itself on being, “freaky fast.” The Bengals have many “freaky fast” ATHs on the roster, most of whom have zero respect for the law and multiple run-ins with the police. It’s a safe bet that a Jimmy Johns partnership would be well received because the slogan represents exactly how the Bengals want to play on the field, and how players such as Adam “Pac Man” Jones and Joe Mixon must act off the field to avoid more arrests.

If Marvin Lewis goes another season without a playoff victory, the slogan might also hold true for how quickly he’ll be relieved of his duties as head coach.

Baltimore Ravens and Otis Elevators

The Ravens need to do the right thing, which is to make amends with the elevator industry after the reprehensible damage caused by Ray Rice while inside an elevator. Rice’s career came to an abrupt end, but people never stopped to think about how elevators were affected by the whole ordeal. Elevators everywhere had to deal with the shame brought on by the actions of one man, and they had to work their way out of the dark shadow that was cast on them by society as a dangerous place for a woman to be alone with a man. The only way to repay them is to name Otis as the jersey sponsor.

I know it’s been a few years, but the fact remains that the Ravens went to the playoffs four straight seasons while Ray Rice was on the roster. In three years since the elevator incident, the Ravens have just one post-season appearance to go along with a 5-win season and an 8-win season.

Pittsburgh Steelers and 7-Eleven

Steelerswire/USA Today

This ad partnership mainly has to do with Antonio Brown being the best wide receiver in the NFL right now, and like 7-Eleven, he always seems to be open. The convenience store king is ideal for the franchise with the most Super Bowl trophies because you can get almost anything you need at 7-Eleven. Similarly, the Steelers can beat you with their stout defense, their run-game featuring Le’Veon Bell, or through the air with the Brown-Roethlisberger combo. Also, name a more useful purpose for the Terrible Towel than to have it to wipe your ass after scarfing down pizza, hotdogs, and $1 spicy chicken taquitos from 7-Eleven; I’ll wait.

Stay tuned for more parts to this series as I preview each division.

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