DREAM SPIRIT

In these days of big-as-life televisions, team jackets, uniform shirts and even underwear with your favorite sports team’s logo, it is sometimes easy to get carried away.

Whether you are a member of the “Raider Nation” with a complete silver and black wardrobe or just own a Steelers’ Terrible Towel, it is truly possible to declare your loyalty to any professional or college sports team.

The craze has spread from the familiar team jacket to every part of the home and lifestyle. License plate frames, shower curtains, sofas, chairs and now one of the latest products, the NFL mattress.

Offered through Baseline Licensing Group and licensed by the NFL, the mattresses are joined by headboards, sheets, pillows and a multitude of offerings to the die-hard fans now that football season is in full swing.

“The powerful sports brands that BLG carries as a licensee represent millions of fans that are passionate about their teams. They all want to one-up their friends and neighbors!” explained Red Barnes, Baseline president and chief operating officer.

Baseline has partnered with many local retailers to bring the latest fan craze to the marketplace. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price starts at $499 for a twin mattress and foundation and goes up through $799 for a queen-sized set and $999 for a king set.

“Our original thought would be kids’ bedrooms, (statistically children aged 7-11 are the most likely to own NFL merchandise) … mostly sales of twins and fulls, but we are being pleasantly surprised. Sit ‘n Sleep’s first sales off the floor were queens,” said Barnes. “All teams will be available during the coming year. We chose the top licensees for the NFL to start with, those that have national support, and we have been adding teams as key retailers come on board. Steelers, the No. 1 team in generating licensed merchandise, sells everywhere.

“The mattress will be in primary team colors on the sides and secondary team colors on the quilted top. It’s a very tasteful contemporary look,” added Barnes.

This marks the first NFL-licensed mattress line, and it complements the growing list of NFL team logo furniture from BLG. Headboards featuring all 32 teams will be available.

Each mattress will have a corner streamer carrying the team’s logo and hang tags will feature the NFL hologram.

The line is tough enough to take a linebacker to dreamland, company officials say. Mattresses feature a luxury-firm build with excellent edge support and offer a 10-year nonprorated warranty.

Statistics show that when teams are having a winning season sales of logo merchandise increases proportionately and that professional football outranks all other sports by more than double the amount of fans citing a favorite sport.

According to NFL statistics, sports logo apparel sales rose from $1.8 billion in 1992 to $24 billion in 2004. NFL merchandise sales for 2006 topped $12 billion, with the Indianapolis Colts merchandise making huge strides into the marketplace.

However, “the team to beat for fan loyalty is the Pittsburgh Steelers,” according to Dan Masonson, spokesperson for the National Football League. “A year removed from their Super Bowl XL victory, the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the top spot in the NFL’s Top 10 in licensed merchandise for the second consecutive year. The Steelers have ranked among the top three teams in licensed merchandise each of the past three years and are among the top 10 teams in merchandise sales for the 11th time in the past 12 years.

“The Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, who faced off in Super Bowl XLI, finished second and third respectively in 2006 merchandise sales. The Bears are in the Top 10 for the third time in the past four years and enjoyed their highest ranking since holding the top spot from 1985 to 1989. The Colts, who ranked seventh last year, hold their highest ranking in club history,” Masonson said.

If you’re trying to figure out what to get your big guy for the holidays this year, just look at the ratty old logo T-shirt and think of his wildest dreams.

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