Operation Team Player Nets $123 Million in Counterfeit Super Bowl Merch
The NFL certainly wants a fair battle to unfold on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. That desire for decency extends beyond the gridiron, though, as the overseer of the big game wants to protect its brands and give fans the proper treatment, too. It went a long way toward establishing that yesterday, as Operation Team Player announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations nabbed $123 million in bogus merchandise since last year’s Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.
— SouthFloridaReporter (@SFLReporter) January 31, 2020
The NFL’s championship tilt is always going to draw a surplus of suspicious sales activity, but this year’s results, courtesy of a more concerted effort by the responsible agencies and what we suppose were even more unlawful actions by sellers, led to a 400 percent increase in the dollar amount of seized products.
Considering that the Chiefs and 49ers have amazing fan bases and that each will end long Super Bowl droughts if victorious—the former has not won the Lombardi Trophy in 50 years while the latter has gone 25 without raising it—it makes sense that phony merchants would be up to their usual tricks. But to go from last year's $24.2 million to this year's $123 million in shoddy goods is astounding. While not all of the illegal merch is related to the Chiefs and the 49ers, it would be interesting to see how much their participation compelled the creation of the confiscated items.
The aforementioned total constitutes the removal from the market of jerseys, jewelry, hats, cellphone accessories and “thousands of other bogus items,” according to the South Florida Reporter. While there are fans who might rely on counterfeit products to save money or to obtain products more quickly, the purchases are usually not wise ones, and the agencies who pulled off Operation Team Player strove to keep legitimacy as a core element of the celebration of the Super Bowl.
As soon as the duel between the on-field combatants ends, the confiscators will need to go right back to guarding against illegality, as there will surely be those who try to peddle championship rings and other commemoratives related to the winner’s good fortune. Therefore, with the commercialization of the league increasing as exciting young players like Patrick Mahomes map their superstar career trajectories, it is a fair bet that the $123 million tally from the present report will be less than next year’s take because scammers will see the league’s enhanced marketability as further justification to fatten their wallets, too.