Q What happens to championship hats and shirts made for teams that lose the big game?
A League-licensed Giants and Ravens apparel flooded the sidelines of the conference championship games two weeks ago even faster than their bootleg counterparts hit the parking lots. So what became of the 1,200 pieces of official gear touting the Raiders and Vikings as conference champs? As it does each season, the NFL donated the merchandise to charity, this year to a Fort Lauderdale group called HANDY (Helping Abused, Neglected Dependent Youth). "It makes no sense to destroy merchandise when there are people who need it," says Beth Colleton, director of NFL Charities.
For the Super Bowl, official apparel-maker Nike has produced an initial run of celebratory hats and shirts for the Giants and the Ravens. Once the winner is known, says Mark Hampton, president of Nike Team Sports, "we'll manufacture 250,000 hats and shirts in the first six or seven hours after the game," so that merchandise can hit stores by Monday morning. As for the Super Bowl loser's pre produced gear, the NFL will route it to World Vision, a global relief agency. "I remember watching a PBS documentary on homeless kids in Romania," says Colleton. "They were all wearing shirts that said SUPER BOWL CHAMPION BUFFALO BILLS."