NFL Decides to Keep Las Vegas Raiders Apparel on Hold Until Relocation
Things have been coming up roses in Las Vegas for quite some time. The last 16 months, though, have proven particularly telling in an athletic sense, as March 2017 saw NFL owners cast a 31-1 vote to approve the Oakland Raiders’ relocation plan to Sin City, and this past season yielded a stunning storybook tale written by the Vegas Golden Knights, who, as an expansion team, advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The hockey franchise has recently joined the news cycle again, but the pigskin organization has found itself enjoying headline-maker status, too, as the NFL recently elected not to permit the Raiders to sell apparel products that mention their future destination until they leave California. The league’s decision has led to mixed reactions, but what one cannot dispute is that the anticipation that surrounds the eventual move to Nevada could inspire counterfeiters to hawk their bogus wares to eager fans.
Excluding the 2016 season that resulted in a 12-4 record and a playoff berth, the Oakland Raiders have not made many ripples since advancing to Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 campaign. Like in daily life, where people claim that a change of scenery can alter a person’s outlook and fortune, perhaps leaving Oakland is what the Raiders need to achieve a nice run of solid seasons, but the present fan base might balk at that. Those supporters, however, have, at most, likely two seasons to cheer for their heroes as representatives of their fair city, as Las Vegas Stadium is slated to be ready for them come 2020.
Though that timeline might inspire some “Oh, that’s not too long” reactions and could compel the public to want to secure merchandise that promotes the “new” team in Vegas, the NFL is having none of the latter, proclaiming that such apparel is only permissible when the Raiders say farewell to the Bay Area.
NFL won’t allow Raiders to sell Las Vegas Raiders gear until team leaves Oakland, provides bigger opportunity for counterfeiters. pic.twitter.com/MxZF9WiVjd
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 23, 2018
It is easy to see the logic behind this while also quite simple to find it puzzling. In the first sense, the Raiders, as NBC Sports posited, could be planning a rebranding to go along with their impending journey. That would obviously make putting present logos and designs on apparel a waste of resources and a misuse of consumers’ cash. On the other hand, the restriction could sound odd since, as CBS Sports noted, fans can currently purchase personal seat licenses for when the action commences in the team's future $1.8 billion venue.
The constraint also opens the door for counterfeiters, as there will undoubtedly be excited fans who fall prey to opportunists eager to make a buck off unapproved apparel. However, the lack of official Las Vegas Raiders apparel until 2020 will make it far easier for authorities to spot any counterfeits. After all, 100 percent of items sold before 2020 will be counterfeit.
In its defense of letting the team sell Vegas-themed apparel before the move, CBS rejected the notion that the NFL is not marketing any goods ahead of the move as a sign of respect.
“Letting Vegas fans buy gear with their town’s name on it isn’t going to pour any more salt into the wounds,” CBS Sports said.
The league is all about making money, so we also doubt that it is considering the team’s devout backers, who around this time last year found themselves on an emotional roller-coaster, and their feelings on losing the team to Las Vegas.
Another why-are-they-waiting argument could surface if we return to the Golden Knights. For all the renown that they achieved in their first season, they were not without critics, or, we should say, their management team wasn’t, as they squared off against the U.S. Army over trademark matters. Despite not even having legal permission to identify themselves as the Golden Knights, the Western Conference constituents sold gear before their first game in October. Yes, we are talking about different sports, and, yes, the Raiders have a long history, while the Golden Knights are newbies. But why did the hockey team have relative carte blanche while the football squad must bide its time?