Jake Delhomme and Brett Favre stare at a group of GW students with approving smiles.
This isn’t an NFL huddle in the traditional sense. In reality, the quarterbacks are promotional cardboard cut outs standing up in a large boardroom on 2021 L Street, home of NFL Players Inc., the company in charge of licensing NFL merchandise.
Most of the GW community probably didn’t realize NFL Players Inc. was located in the District, but a group of sports marketing students is taking full advantage of the opportunity presented to them.
They are interns, but they aren’t just fetching coffee and making photocopies. The group – made up of graduate students Amy Shapiro, Sara Rabe, Mari Villalobos, Alexis Bruder, Ken Embrack, Michael Kahl and undergraduate Andrew Bond – is currently planning a charity basketball game to support D.C. Special Olympics, which will be held at the Smith Center on Thursday morning. The game will go along with the annual Gridiron Gala, an event the NFL puts on to honor players’ off-the-field contributions.
Doors open at 10 a.m. for the 10:30 game that will feature several NFL players, including Jerome Bettis, Junior Seau and Deuce McCallister. It’s open to the public, and students can pick up free tickets (donations are encouraged) at the Smith Center box office Thursday.
In past years, the game has been held at Howard University, but the NFL Players Inc. looked for a place where it would get better attendance. So, it turned to the group of students, which came up with an idea that might motivate even the weary students to get up before 10 a.m. Door prizes will be given out to the first 50 to arrive, and at halftime of the charity game, one student will have the chance to take a half-court shot for $20,000.
While working with NFL players may sound glamorous, the students working on the project knew that wouldn’t be their focus.
“We don’t get to interact with the players much,” Bond said. “It’s really about the dirty work associated with the project we need to see it through. All the stuff we’ve learned through the program is about the dirty work.”
By “dirty work,” he means setting up tables at the Marvin Center, putting up flyers around campus and sending out mass e-mails to GW accounts. Garnering interest isn’t easy, and that can be applied to the business world, which is in reality, what they are preparing for.
“It’s humbling but not discouraging,” Rabe said. “Even if you get an ‘in,’ you still have to work your way up.”
The group’s goal is 1,000 spectators in attendance. The students hope it’s attainable.
“There are good ideas,” Villalobos said of the project. “And there are realistic ideas.”