Google services 5.5 billion search requests a day. Yes, you read that right. Billion. With a B. A day. That’s 24 hours, last time I checked. Pretty impressive for a company that was started in a garage by two of the nerdiest nerds that Stanford ever produced. Even more impressive when you consider that the company was originally named Back Rub. BackRub.com sounds like one of those shady documentaries that pops up on Netflix on a Thursday night, armed with little fan fair and sexy cover art, then inexplicably winds up in the Top Ten a few days later. Just writing BackRub.com creeps me out. Say it out loud. I dare you. BackRub.com. Let the words sit in your mouth for a minute. Doesn’t feel right, does it? I highly doubt that 4.3 billion people would be searching for things on BackRub.com daily. I am damn sure of that. You could say I am Acrisure. Sorry Steelers fans. Sometimes ownership has it’s disadvantages.
I think we need to have a frank discussion, America. This corporate advertising thing has jumped the shark. Strike that. It hasn’t just jumped the shark–it has done a Shaun White 1440 double twist over the shark. Sports has always maintained relationships with corporate sponsors (ie–Acme Packers). It’s not the existence of the sponsorship that has been so galling, especially of late. It is the utter soullessness of it. The Steelers renaming Heinz Field as Acrisure Stadium is this soulessness’ craven mascot. Naming a stadium after an insurance company that is not even based in the state that you play? I have heard of vertical integration before, but yeesh. This Acrisure deal is the type of integration that is so vertical it inevitably disappears up it’s own ass.
In the year 2000 (shout out, Conan O’Brien!), only four stadiums had sold their naming rights. In 2022, only four stadiums remain that have not sold their naming rights. Stadium nomenclature has become yet another stream in the endless river of revenue that NFL teams drink from. Despite the fact that a majority of these stadium are either partially, or, in worst cases, fully funded by taxpayer money. It’s a cynical system. Owners watching their team’s values skyrocket from their publicly funded corner offices. Cynical isn’t a strong enough word. These owners must need the help too–I heard that Robert Kraft’s personal masseuse had to take a scheduled flight from Florida to Foxboro last week. Yuck.
You would think with the never ending oceans of cash that these NFL teams bring in from multi-billion dollar TV contracts, to lucrative merchandising agreements, and from high dollar private suite sales, to the revenue generated from personal seat licenses, that the NFL could help their fans out by maybe lowering season ticket costs, or providing more reasonable parking charges. Wrong. Despite attendance numbers falling over the last four seasons, 75% of the teams in the league actually increased their ticket prices for this upcoming season.
In 1982, the average ticket price to an NFL game was nine dollars. This year, that average ticket cost is sitting just north of $117. Somewhere on a beach in Montauk, Gordon Gecko just went from six to midnight. This isn’t news to anyone. The NFL is a Godless money gobbling machine and everybody in America loves it. Nothing is ever going to change that. Domestic violence cases. Concussions. Players gambling on their own games. These stories have not left even a hint of a smudge on the NFL’s shiny exterior. I mean, what would we do without the NFL on our TV’s in the fall? Talk to our families? Get real. The NFL knows how far it has it’s collective fanbase bent over the barrel, and furthermore, it knows it can essentially charge us whatever it wants. And they do so. With unabashed glee!
As if naming the stadium wasn’t enough, most stadiums now have sold sponsorship rights to their red zone areas. Some have sold naming rights to their end zones. Others have sponsorship deals for every freaking first down their teams get (not a very cost-effective deal if you are the company sponsoring the Bears!). Hell, these teams are so willing to prostitute themselves for money that the majority of them have sold sponsorship rights to their practice fields and media availability areas. You get the feeling that they will eventually sell the rights to every single play (this sack is brought to you buy Lovesac–nobody knows sacks like Lovesac). I just made that up. And you read that in Jim Nantz’ voice. Because that scenario is so utterly plausible. When this happens in the 2025 season, I better get some damn sweet royalties!
Which brings me to our beloved Green Bay Packers–the last bastion of hope in this green-hued dystopian hellscape. Green Bay is no stranger to corporate sponsorship. Nor are they, by any means, a mom and pop shop. They are the 27th most valuable sports franchise in the world. But, the gameday experience at Lambeau has not been nearly as diminished as most of the other arenas around the league. Go to a game at Lambeau. Then go to a game at Levi Stadium. Lambeau screams football. Levi Stadium calmly whispers company sales retreat.
The Packers have managed to avoid selling their soul, mainly because we lack one thing that all other NFL teams possess–some greedy owner lining his pockets. The virus of greed and avarice that has corrupted so many other teams in the NFL has no host in Eastern Wisconsin. There is no Japanese car company’s name on our building. Just the name of the man who started it all, Curly Lambeau. A man who played for, coached, and managed the Packers for it’s first three decades of existence. A man who bled green and gold. When you walk into Lambeau Field, you are walking in Curly’s legacy. You are experiencing his vision. You are honoring his good name. Not the name of some insurance company that is located three states away.
This article was sponsored by Laughing Clown Malt Liquor in partnership with Inevitability Insurance. Dying is not just an ability–it’s an inevitability! Protect yourself with the Inevitability Insurance Company of Falls River. (Yep, you just read that in Jim Nantz’ voice too!)
Timothy Preece has been a Packers fan since 1991 and currently lives in Utah because he makes bad decisions. You can follow him on twitter at @LegitimateTimP.