By Published on .

Paul Tagliabue sure knows how to throw a birthday party.

The commissioner of the National Football League presided as the emcee and chief organizer of the league's season-long celebration of its 75th anniversary. Mr. Tagliabue did everything short of hiring magicians and clowns while focusing on the NFL's rich history.

Ted Turner was the life of Mr. Tagliabue's party. His TNT cable network televised a two-hour documentary about the NFL called "75 Seasons." A companion coffeetable book and companion CD-ROM were created by Turner Publishing and Turner Interactive, respectively.

The licensed-apparel division within NFL Properties created a new category, "Throwbacks," a line comprised of jerseys and other apparel that NFL teams used to wear back in the leather-helmet days. NFL licensees like Starter and Logo 7 sold $40 million in "Throwbacks" merchandise. American Express tied in with Foot Locker, official retail headquarters for the 75th anniversary, for a "Throwbacks" promotion.

The "Throwbacks" retail effort tied into "Throwbacks" weekends, with teams playing games in replicas of the old uniforms. The teams would bring star players from the past to sign autographs and reminisce with fans, but the kids got into it, too.

"`Throwbacks' connected across the board," says Mr. Tagliabue, 54. "Older fans obviously loved the nostalgia. But younger fans, hungry for new styles of merchandise, found the old stuff new again."

Most Popular
In this article: