NFL Speakeasy Stories: A Connivance

blaxabbath

blaxabbath

I sat on a jury years ago, 2nd degree attempted murder case. One day the defendant wore sneakers with his suit to court. It was that day I knew he was guilty.
blaxabbath

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Upstairs at Studio 54, Manhattan. 2:47 am, June 26th, 1999

“Paul, I’m going to be straight with you. I just simply don’t see the numbers adding up. It seemed like a lot of optimistic assumptions when you first requested bids and, quite frankly, my opinion about the NFL’s rosy outlook of the apparel market as we enter the new century is not so positive.”

Paul Tagliabue, the Commissioner of National Football League, was months into negotiations with Reebok to secure the next ten year contract for the league’s merchandising. He was nearing the end of his tenure as commissioner and knew that, when negotiations went this far, an agreement had to be struck — and it had to be struck by the men who had worked so long and hard on the deal. It wasn’t just that Nike was waiting in the wings with a less-lucrative offer; Tagliabue knew it was important to show that the NFL could negotiate with any corporation on any contract. They weren’t just going to take the first bid from the biggest players and then be at the whim of Phil Knight’s diversified sponsorship portfolio or ESPN’s inconsistent and seasonal broadcast coverage. Besides, the owners gave Tagliabue the authority to contract a uniform deal for all the clubs with the understanding that he’d negotiate a better deal with the league’s buying power that would be greater than the franchises individual deals. Simply signing Nike’s standard contract would surely put the questions of his diligence under scrutiny.

“I understand your concerns, Carl. We’re always modeling projections, you know, and I had the same hesitations asking anyone to provide a bid based on these figures. But, and you’re more of a numbers guy than me so maybe you’ll feel otherwise, everything seems to check out. We’re on pace for serious expansion and, with baseball still struggling after their strike, I’m really bullish about the future of this league. I mean, assuming Y2K doesn’t wipe us all out.”

Everyone joked about the technological-doomsday millennium bug. Paul Tagliabue constructed a bunker.

“Like I said, my guy will be here any minute and then we can go back to worrying about business, Carl. Until then, enjoy a drink with me. I don’t get to be back in New York much these days. With the success of the expansion teams and no team in LA, every one of our host cities is interested in negotiating long-term stadium rights for their franchises.”

Carl Yankowski smiled and took a sip from his scotch. He was out of his element in these negotiations (hell, this whole sports apparel thing was out of his element) but, it seemed, Tagliabue didn’t know that — or simply wasn’t the kind of cut-throat executive to capitalize on that. And, while his personable approach reaffirmed his statements about fairness and integrity in dealing with NFL sponsorship partners, such an attitude might not bode well for a league looking at aggressive expansion, the kind on which Yankowski’s Reebok Brands would be depending to make this $150 million deal work.

“Mr Tagliabue,” the cocktail waitress leaned over and rested her breasts on his shoulder, “I just wanted to let you know your third has arrived. Shall I bring him a scotch along with fresh glasses for the two of you?”

“Thank you, Lin Sue, but he can handle his own order. I will warn you though, I hope your bartender has plenty of sugar in the back; he likes his drinks sweet.”

“Like me?”

“Like you, darlin’.”

[Door Flies Open]

“A little bit of Monica in my life. A little bit of Erica by my side. A little bit of Rita is all I need. A little bit of Tina is what I see.”

“Good to see you could make it, Roger. You remember Carl from Reebok.”

“Carl! Yes! How are you doing? Still livin’ that vida loca!?”

“I…uhh….yes. And how have you been?”

“Plugging away at these numbers, Carl. All night, every night, you know. Maybe take a break for some Who Wants to be a Millionaire but, hey, you gotta answer the call when this guy puts his fist on the table and says, ‘I want it that way’!”

“Roger, I’m afraid to ask but are you using again?”

“CAN I GET A HURRICANE OVER HERE, SUE ELLEN?! EXTRA SUGAR ON THE RIM!”

“Paul, is now a good time to do this? I mean, I’ve got a meeting with Palm on Wednesday and Patricia has been hounding me to take her to that new film with the girl from Pretty Woman. She plays an actress, but not exactly herself, I guess, in this one and either way –“

“Loved Pretty Woman! Love hookers!” Paying no attention to the cocktail waitress’ hand that was still on the base, Roger licked the complete rim of his glass before dunking his hand to the bottom of the drink to fish out a rogue sunken cherry. “They do whatever you say, you know, and if they try not to, you just call up their pimp and he takes care of them. I’m telling you, that’s a management style I can get behind. Just consolidate everything — judge, jury, executioner, appellate court judge, evidence storage specialist, and equipment czar — all in one place.”

“Carl, look, the numbers won’t lie. Just — Roger, can you focus on the Reebok figures for now, please?”

“That your final answer!? Nah — I’m just fuckin’ with you, boss. I got this.” He shifted in his seat to make himself square with the head of Reebok. “Carl, we are at a watershed moment in history and, because we cannot fully account for the benefits of partnering with the NFL over the next decade, you’re going to end up getting a hell of a deal on this agreement. Yes, we have growth with our television contracts. Yes, we’ve been successful with our latest expansion franchises as well as growing the interest in the sport overseas. But we knew all this was going to be successful because, as I said, this is a time of unheralded opportunity.”

“Roger, I don’t mean to challenge your data but you aren’t the only person advising me on the economic benefits of the current global marketplace.”

“Not just the marketplace, Carl. Everything! Take fans, for example, that now have a greater personal investment with their favorite players than ever. They know these players and they love them! You’re going to sell more jerseys than ever because NFL fans love their players and want to show their association. It will no longer be the exception for fans to wear officially licensed Reebok/NFL Equipment fan gear, it will be the standard. Anyone rolling up to a tailgate with an Eagles tee shirt on is going to find himself shunned and embarrassed. This is the culture you are capitalizing on.”

“That seems like far stretch to assume you could manipulate the base to the point where you can control certain habits of theirs by –“

“It’s not us! It’s the world. We’re in a period of peace that will last, at least, 100 years. The days of pointless, expensive, body-consuming wars are over. So you know where that patriotism and that lust for competition will lead the American populace? To the hard hitting action of the NFL. Hell, this peace is why we’ve been able to export our all-American product so effectively. Just think, in 15 years, thanks to the win-win of NAFTA, our relationship with Mexico will send the border fence the way of the Berlin Wall.”

“But if that’s the case, and I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, what’s keeping other leagues from experiencing the same success in the global market? Baseball is still growing elsewhere, even as it struggles stateside. The NBA is seeing global growth, including the biggest potential market of China, while you’re talking about Germany.”

“The NBA is without star power. Their entire popularity hangs on one or two players. Players who, by the way, carry enormous individual contracts and show no loyalty to league sponsors. Remember when Jordan covered your logo at the Olympic opening ceremonies? That kind of individualism is the kind of shit that makes the NBA a lesser investment. And baseball? 3 hours to see if someone hits a dinger? We have a dinger every single play! Sometimes it’s a running back breaking loose but, more often than not, it’s some lineman’s brain slamming against the inside of his skull. Either way, every game is a constant stream of plays that give the fans what they want.”

“You mention the NBA’s reliance on star power but, I have to say, I’m having a difficult time getting excited about the next group of NFL players entering the league. Vince Carter, Steve Francis, Michael Olowokandi….these are guys the NBA can be excited about for the long-term good of the league.”

“Wake up, Carl. First of all, your logo is going to be on the newest draft picks of Tim Couch and Akili Smith! Oh, and Ricky Williams! Have you seen this kid? Dude was worth all six of New Orleans’ picks and, personally, I think the Saints got a steal for him! In fact, between you and me, we might need to give a waiver to place an even larger Reebok vector logo on his shoulder because otherwise the fans will just see a blur! He is going to be a sure-thing. Plus the league is going back into Cleveland and, I’ll tell you what, for that starving market, whatever the Browns do, that city will follow. And with the successes of Jacksonville and Carolina, I have no doubt that the Browns will rise to prominence within five years, though I’d expect it to be closer to three. Look at me, Carl. You sign on with the NFL and there is no way — NO WAY — Nike ever gets a firm hold in that city ever again. Period. Dot. End of statement.”

“Paul, I gotta say, I’m impressed with your boy here. He’s got a vision and, boy howdy, it is intriguing. But the numbers are huge. It’d be two-thirds of our business interest and I don’t know how that looks for our diversification.”

“Well, you’re free to go take on a bunch of bad investments to make this great one a smaller part of your portfolio. But, look Carl, this scotch is flying right through me. Roger will answer anymore of your questions but I really do need to hit the john.” Paul Tagliabue pushed back his chair without another word and briskly walked towards to the restroom.

“Listen to me, Carl. There is more to this than we have discussed. Legal grey-area stuff that I’ve had our attorneys checking out for me on the side. A bit of a trump card or, that is to say, an ace in the hole that will assure you that, by working together, both Reebok and the NFL will make these numbers work. So, you just trust in me, and I guarantee we can make this a win-win for everyone. But I need you to say the words, Carl. I need you to say that you trust me. I need you to say that you trust the NFL to partner with you and take care of you.”

Carl swirled the remaining scotch in his glass before tossing it back with a considerable burning sensation. “I trust you, Roger Goodell, and I trust the NFL to partner with Reebok and take care of Reebok.”

{fin}



NFL, Reebok To Pay $4.75M To Settle Apparel Antitrust Suit (2/26/16)

Click here to file a claim as part of the class action settlement.

blaxabbath
blaxabbath
I sat on a jury years ago, 2nd degree attempted murder case. One day the defendant wore sneakers with his suit to court. It was that day I knew he was guilty.

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

I would like to sip and nice 26 year scotch with a nice woman in a satin dress with a small well used dagger concealed in her garter in the room pictured.

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

My favorite:

” “Loved Pretty Woman! Love hookers!” Paying no attention to the cocktail waitress’ hand that was still on the base, Roger licked the complete rim of his glass before dunking his hand to the bottom of the drink to fish out a rogue sunken cherry. “They do whatever you say, you know, and if they try not to, you just call up their pimp and he takes care of them. I’m telling you, that’s a management style I can get behind. “

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Cheerleaders from Latvia or some such; their passports are held in the NFL offices. While recruiting them in their native country they are told they will get a “rich American lifestyle for some light house work and “modeling.”

I’m totally buying into the asshole Goodell having the capacity to be involved in the illegal sex trade, although the initial beating and raping would be done by one of his minions.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers
Member

“You hear that? I think the man is talking about MEEEEE!”

“Sir, did you want your Trenta, quad, non-fat Larduccino with extra whipped cream, nutmeg and chocolate sauce or not?”

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Peter would get the holy shit kicked out of him by a 100 lb. Estonian teen girl.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Yes, I would pay to see that.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers
Member

We all would.

Unsurprised
Member
Unsurprised

“We have a dinger every single play! Sometimes it’s a running back breaking loose but, more often than not, it’s some lineman’s brain slamming against the inside of his skull.”

I just nearly spat up my breakfast at this. Excellent work.

Unsurprised
Member
Unsurprised

“Either way, every game is a constant stream of plays that give the fans what they want.”

Especially with Goodell’s refs flagging every other fucking play so they have to run it again and again. And again. And again and again.
http://thumbnails115.imagebam.com/49224/094081492236862.jpg

ballsofsteelandfury
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I love these posts so so so so much. Great job!

ballsofsteelandfury
Member

Were you even born in the 90s, btw? Great fucking 90s references!

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