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Where Jim Kelly Is King

By Matt Wood in News on Feb 5, 2007 5:00PM

chicagoist_200702_rex.jpgCheer up, Rex. You didn't win the big one last night, but soon some kid in Africa will think you did. A couple weeks ago, Reebok printed 288 championship T-shirts and hats for both the Colts and Bears to hand out during their postgame celebrations and become the instant must-have item for fans. The NFL then donates the losing team's schwag to a relief organization for developing nations.

Never missing one second of a merchandising opportunity, the NFL has the distribution of its postgame celebration gear down to a science. In an operation worthy of its own nail-biting, split-screen episode of "24," the merch is smuggled down to the winning sidelines as soon as the game's outcome is apparent (we're guessing right after the Bears lost the challenge on Kelvin Hayden's interception return last night). The obsolete losing set is whisked away, never to see the light of day, or, in a day when the NFL controls its message so tightly that it threatens to sue churches for throwing Super Bowl parties, never see the light of eBay. This year's Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears shirts and hats are probably already on their way to Niger, Uganda, or Sierra Leone. So if you just can't let go of the 2006-07 Bears run, sign up for the Peace Corps and travel to the third world, where the Buffalo Bills were a dynasty, and the muddy drinking water always tastes like champagne.

Photo by Alex Brandon/AP Photo, via ESPN.