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February 6, 2007
Our Hats Are Off -- To Africa

At the end of a big championship game, the winners appear within minutes wearing T-shirts and caps proclaiming themselves as the champs. Obviously, these pieces of clothing have to be manufactured in bulk before the game in order to make that kind of deadline, and that means that half of the orders -- the ones proclaiming the wrong team as the winners -- never see the light of day. Did I say never? Well, that's overstating it, because the shirts and hats actually do wind up in the hands of those who can use them:

After the final moments of the Super Bowl, when the Indianapolis Colts' coach was showered in Gatorade and hoisted atop his burliest players' shoulders, the winning players engaged in another time-honored ritual and immediately tossed on championship hats and shirts, which seemingly appeared out of thin air.

These are official Reebok-sponsored, NFL-approved hats and shirts that declare to the world that the Colts are the Super Bowl winners.

But how does that work, since the winner is not known beforehand? Reebok makes two sets of Super Bowl Championship gear — 288 shirts, hats and other assorted paraphernalia for each team. So there are also 288 hats and shirts that claim the Chicago Bears are the Super Bowl XLI Champions.

But before the first speck of confetti hit the AstroTurf at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Sunday night, the Bears' gear was locked away, never to be seen again on American soil, not even on eBay.

Thanks to World Vision, a relief organization that helps provide food, clothing and shelter to developing nations, residents of preapproved towns in Uganda, Niger, Sierra Leone, Romania and other struggling countries will receive these coveted championship leftovers.

The NFL makes World Vision ensure that the gear goes to remote villages, never to return to the United States. They do not want the clothing used to mock the losers of the Super Bowl. The charity makes sure that each family only gets one piece and that they truly need the clothing. That way, it will not wind up on e-Bay and the 288 shirts and caps truly assists the needy.

It's not a bad plan. It's better than burning the extras, and it allows a select group to benefit from the need for immediate gratification that the shirts and caps provide to the winning team. If the NFL had to pick a partner for this project, they could hardly do better than World Vision. If you'd like to contribute to World Vision in order to help provide more assistance to poverty-stricken people, please follow the link. You can be a champion every day, even if you never get the shirt or cap to show it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 6, 2007 4:38 AM

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