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Better than Grossman’s giveaways

Times Staff Writer

While Chicago Bears fans across the country continue to lick their wounds, children and grown-ups in Africa soon will be celebrating the Bears’ glorious victory in the 2007 Super Bowl.

In preparation for each Super Bowl, the NFL orders 288 “champions” T-shirts and caps for each team. And after each Super Bowl, the NFL donates the losing team’s souvenirs to World Vision, a relief organization that distributes the shirts and caps to such places as Niger, Uganda and Sierra Leone.

The New York Times reported that the NFL guards the losers’ gear with a vigilance usually devoted to state secrets. The league orders that the shirts and caps are never to appear on television or EBay, and the gear is never seen on U.S. soil.

The day after the Super Bowl, the souvenirs are removed from a locked storage area and shipped to Sewickley, Pa., near Pittsburgh, where World Vision packages them in wooden boxes and sends them to a developing nation, usually in Africa.

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“This way,” the Times reported, “the NFL can help one of its charities and avoid traumatizing one of its teams.”

By now, the Bears and their fans have been traumatized enough.

Trivia time

Major League Baseball and the NBA order similar shirts and caps for the teams that will eventually be named champions and runners-up.

What happens to the losing teams’ clothing?

Big O, and Big Zero

Oscar Robertson is lending his nickname and Joe Paterno his likeness to new products.

“The Big O,” as Robertson was known throughout his Hall of Fame NBA career, is an all-purpose cleaner with “fadeaway” properties that will be distributed in an arrangement with Bigg’s, a division of Minneapolis’ SuperValu.

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Paterno reached an agreement with R Super Foods, a Pittsburgh company owned by former Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers star Franco Harris, to allow his likeness to appear on boxes of Super Donuts and cinnamon Super Buns.

Worth noting:

* Robertson was a guard who averaged more than 10 rebounds a game during his first five professional seasons and 7.5 for his career. So you know what’s coming. All together now: The Big O really cleans the glass.

* When you take a Super Donut and hold it in front of your face, what do you see? The number of national championships Paterno has won during the last two decades.

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Week 6 power rankings

This was the week when it was good to be the king, not so good to be Rex ...

1. Peyton Manning: New ad campaign for Careerbuilder.com -- Bring back the monkeys, have them take turns spring-boarding off Manning’s back.

2. Indiana: State wrestling championships are now set -- 2006-07 Colts versus 2005-06 Pacers.

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3. UCLA: Who owns L.A.? Since November, Bruins are 3-0 in football and men’s basketball showdowns with USC.

4. Woods versus Federer: Who’s more dominant? Tough to say. All we know is, Andy Roddick would get crushed by either of them.

5. Jeff Garcia: Bears say, “Name your price.”

6. Charles Barkley: Claims he won $700,000 over Super Bowl weekend and lost $2.5 million in six hours last year. The man’s a walking reality series.

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7. Paul Tagliabue: Seemed a Hall of Fame lock until that “I’m not here to talk about the past” speech.

8. Norv Turner: The big winner in the Dallas Cowboys’ head-coaching hunt.

9. Wade Phillips: Wade Phillips?

10. Tony Romo: “Even I didn’t fumble it that badly.”

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Trivia answer

Baseball destroys the World Series runners-up gear. The NBA donates its runners-up clothing to an overseas charity.

And finally

Talking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about ABC/ESPN wanting him to work all of its NASCAR races this season, analyst Rusty Wallace quipped, “I said, ‘Guys, if I wanted to do all of them, I should have just stayed driving the car.’ ”

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mike.penner@latimes.com


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