Electric football inventor Norman Sas was a genuinely humble man. But there was one topic where his trademark reserve quickly melted away. In any conversation that involved NFL Properties, Mr. Sas would always include this phrase: “We made that company.”
There was a financial component to this statement, as Tudor NFL electric football would spend almost a decade as NFL Properties’ top earning item. But perhaps more than this, Tudor NFL electric football became the NFL’s most identifiable item.
The NFL had previously licensed bobble-heads, lunch boxes, helmet plaques, jackets, pajamas, bread, pancakes, and yes, electric football games from Gotham Pressed Steel. But when Tudor created a miniature NFL, it was really one of the first interactive NFL-licensed items. A bobble head would sit there and look at you (besides being fragile); a jacket or hat you put on and took off; Gotham almost got it right with beautiful games and stadiums, but the players never conjured images of the NFL.
What a Tudor NFL electric football game did was allow young boys to interact with the NFL and develop a thoroughly personal relationship with “their” team. They could imagine being the coach, the running back, the quarterback…whatever position on the field they wanted. Right there in their living room or bedroom, in December or June, by themselves or with friends. With Tudor electric football, the NFL was always nearby.
The success of Tudor’s NFL electric football helped NFL Properties’ expand and build the “brand.” And that brand today is worth billions of dollars. So Tudor was instrumental NFL Properties’ success, but did they really “make” NFL the company?
Perhaps, but one thing is for certain even 45 years later: when someone says “electric football” we automatically think “NFL.” How’s that for branding?
Earl & Roddy