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On Sunday, Mark Sanchez may not have become the first rookie quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl, but he can take solace in the fact that his loss will lead to some good.
Prepared for every scenario, the NFL prints t-shirts, hats, and other apparel to celebrate playoff berths, postseason victories, and Super Bowl titles. The winners celebrate with their families on the field in oversized t-shirts and brand new caps. Fans flock to the stores in droves to be the first with their hands on the newest gear. And the winners go home in defeat, empty-handed. So what of the hundreds of printed shirts and hats that are voided by a team’s loss? Since 1994, the NFL has donated the losing team’s gear to World Vision, a charity that works in impoverished nations to improve the deplorable conditions of their daily lives. The apparel benefits a nation in need, and, in the past, the clothing has gone to children in Nicaragua, Romania, El Salvador, Chile, and Zimbabwe.
In light of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, the NFL decided to donate that the excess apparel to the people of Haiti. According to a report by news outlet TMZ, a representative from the NFL Consumer Products Department was quoted as saying, "The shirts will be donated to World Vision and sent to Haiti." As the Indianapolis Colts celebrate their Super Bowl berth, the shirts that would have celebrated a New York Jets win are being packed up and sent to the relief effort in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.
While the NFL is hardly donating the $57 million dollars celebrities like George Clooney raised during the recent Hope for Haiti Now telethon, they are contributing in a practical way unique to their practices. So when you visit Haiti and see children wearing shirts proclaiming the Jets 2010 AFC Champs, you’ll know they may not have won the ballgame back in the States, but they certainly won in the hearts of the children whose lives they changed forever with a simple t-shirt.