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World Vision distributed thousands of T-shirts in Africa commemorating the Bears Super Bowl victory after Chicago lost the 2007 game. (World Vision)

Broncos Super Bowl championship merchandise headed overseas after loss

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Some kids in Africa could soon be wearing T-shirts, hats and other clothing clothing commemorating the Broncos Super Bowl championship that Denver didn't win.

The NFL and manufacturers hedge their bets before the game, creating championship merchandise for both teams so they can sell it immediately after the game is over. But that leaves tons of licensed gear for the losers that can't be sold.

The NFL used to destroy all the loser merchandise, but thanks to a partnership with Federal Way-based World Vision it now goes to needy people all over the world.

"That's really brand new, high-quality, never worn clothing that could be used somewhere to serve somebody who otherwise wouldn't have access to those things," says Jim Fischerkeller, Sr. Director of Corporate Engagement for World Vision.

The gear is generally shipped from the Super Bowl site several days after the game to a distribution center near Pittsburgh. World Vision staffers then go through a list of requests from the nearly 100 countries they work with to provide aid and other support.

"As product comes in that would fit their needs and fill their needs we apply that and ship to those countries."

World Vision also works with the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, along with several NCAA conferences and championships. It also receives merchandise that would otherwise be destroyed from manufacturers and retailers including Sports Authority, Reebok and Dick's.

Fischerkiller isn't sure how much Broncos merchandise World Vision will receive, but he expects it to be substantial.

"In this case you have two very devoted rabid fan bases in Seattle and Denver. So my guess is the pre-order will be pretty expansive and hopefully there'll be a great windfall for the children and families that we serve in need."

In 2007, Sports Authority ordered more than 15,000 shirts commemorating a Bears Super Bowl victory that never happened. The Colts beat the Bears, 29-17.

"It was really cool for me personally to see kids on a soccer field in Zambia wearing Chicago Bears Super Bowl shirts," Fischerkeller says. "What it does is fill an essential need and enables us to concentrate on our other work, which is clean water and food resources and those type of things ."

The gear has gone all over the world in recent years including Haiti, Nicaragua, Romania, Bosnia and Uganda. Once it is inventoried, it is distributed through World Vision offices, with items like sweatshirts and knit hats going to cold-weather countries while T-shirts and baseball caps will go to tropical nations.

As part of World Vision's agreements, it can't distribute the merchandise in the United States to keep it off the market.

"It's just part of our holistic strategy for development in the under-served world and this part of it is really cool, especially this time of year. It's a small part of what we do, but it really helps us do all of our other work."


Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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