Friday, February 24, 2012

Ryan Braun: Where Is The Truth?


As we all know by now, Ryan Braun’s suspension for violating the MLB drug policy has been overturned with independent arbitrator Shyam Das casting the deciding vote. Without the benefit of written reasons we cannot definitively say their exact reasons for this decision, but it has been widely reported that the issue was a break in the chain of custody of the sample and a failure to follow proper protocol under the drug policy. So where does this decision leave us?

We are no closer to knowing the truth about whether Braun used performance enhancing substances to artificially raise his testosterone level. We will probably never know the truth and that no doubt hurts the integrity of the game. Other than Braun, nobody is happy about this outcome. MLB has publicly stated their disagreement with the decision and cannot be pleased that the quality of their testing program has been sullied. MLB players and the MLBPA have to be very anxious about what happened to Braun. If Braun’s reputation could be attacked as a result of an improper handling of a sample contrary to the drug policy, then it could happen to any player. Much of the public and the media are upset at what they feel is another baseball player getting away with cheating the game. They feel Braun exploited a loophole in the system and got off on a technicality. Is this true? Did Braun game the system?

Some people feel that Braun only escaped punishment because he exploited a technicality in the system; that he was guilty of cheating but because the sample may not have been handled properly he won’t be punished. Is this fair? Is a flaw in the chain of custody really a technicality? Before we get to that, let’s consider a couple hypothetical situations.

Imagine you are the prime suspect in a murder. You are certain in your belief that you are 100% innocent. However, the police have tied you to the crime because you had a motive, no alibi and they found a hair on the murder weapon that seems to match your DNA, after the police take a sample of your DNA. Everything points to your guilt, but it comes out that there might have been an issue with how your DNA sample was handled and that proper protocols were not followed. Doubt has been cast on the results of the DNA match. How comfortable would you feel about being sent to prison for life on the basis of a DNA match clouded in doubt?

Now Braun isn’t about to go to prison for life, so let us lower the stakes. Imagine you work at a company where mandatory drug testing has been collectively bargained for, and a failed test can result in a significant suspension without pay. Now you know you’ve never taken any drugs; you are the most straight-laced person in the world, but your test comes back positive for cocaine. As a result, you’ll be suspended without pay for six months, crippling you financially. When you return to work, your reputation will be destroyed, your colleagues won’t take you seriously, and your ability to do your work will be negatively impacted. However, it becomes known that the company did not follow the proper procedures in the testing policy, raising doubt as to whether your sample showed cocaine in your system at all. Would you still feel comfortable accepting the suspension?

The MLBPA and the MLB collectively bargained the existence of the drug testing policy. It is the product of negotiation and compromise. Whether or not we like aspects of the technical protocol of the policy, or we think they are necessary, those are the agreed upon procedures for the testing program. When the players gave up their privacy rights and subjected themselves to punishment for use of performance enhancing drugs, they accepted the fact that if they used drugs, they would be caught and punished. The flip side is that they have a very reasonable expectation that the technical protocols of the policy will be followed to ensure that only those truly guilty would be punished. Where these protocols were not followed, the guilt of the player would be clouded with doubt. If the players cannot trust the testing program, its efficacy is threatened. The players will no longer accept the threat of punishment from a system that punishes innocent players.

In a criminal case, the Crown must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We have a history of not punishing those for whom we view their guilt with some doubt. There is a famous saying by English jurist William Blackstone that it is “better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer”. We would rather let ten guilty people walk away from their crimes without punishment than to punish one innocent person for a crime they did not commit. What is not clear, and may never be clear, is whether Braun is one of the ten guilty, or if he is the innocent one. 

The Ryan Braun Case & A "Cool And Secure Location"

Ryan Braun's positive drug test was overturned by a Panel of arbitrators. The decision was not unanimous, with 1 arbitrator finding against Braun, while 2 overturned the decision.

It has been widely reported that Braun got off on a technicality. His lawyers didn't address whether Braun took performance enhancing drugs. Apparently, Braun’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio was nearly 30:1. A 4:1 ratio is the threshold for a positive and the 50-game suspension that accompanies.

Rather, Braun's lawyers were critical of the chain of custody. This refers to how the sample was taken and handled to the point of delivery to the testing laboratory in Laval, Quebec. By casting doubt on the integrity of the sample, his lawyers convinced two of the 3 arbitrators that Braun's sample could not be seen as reliable.

Under Section V.7 of Major League Baseball’s Joint DrugPrevention And Treatment Program, the collector of the sample is required to send the sample by FedEx the day it is collected unless there are "unusual circumstances" prevented the mailing. Here is the wording:
The Collector shall check the “FedEx” box in the section entitled “Specimen Bottles(s) Released to:” Absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the Laboratory on the same day they are collected.
In this case, it has been reported that the sample was taken on a Saturday, and that the FedEx office was closed before it could be sent. So the collector stored the sample in a fridge and mailed it out on the Monday.

Braun's lawyers were able to successfully argue that the chain of custody was not properly maintained resulting in a sample that was compromised. 

Having not read the decision, there is only so much that can be said. However, for the sake of completeness and balance, there is another point that should be raised. That same Joint Drug Prevention And Treatment Program does provide that if the "specimen is not immediately prepared for shipment, the Collector shall ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage". It also reads as follows: the "Collector must store the samples in a cool and secure location".

In this case, the FedEx office was closed. The sample was therefore placed in a fridge, which is a "cool and secure location" with a view to safeguarding it. While a fridge is not expressly provided for in the Policy, the question to ask is this: what is the industry standard for storing a specimen? If it's a fridge then it should be ok. According to a number of experts, a refrigerator is often used to store specimens. So using the fridge was likely not unusual.

So it's fair to wonder if the collector did maintain the chain of custody. While the sample was not sent by FedEx the same day (as per the Policy), it was stored in a "cool" place (also as per the Policy).

Of course, without the benefit of the written reasons, we can't know with any type of certainty what type of evidence was relied upon by the two arbitrators to overturn the decision. It's possible that there was evidence that there were gaps or errors with respect to the handling of the sample.

So this is just one more element to consider. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

From Mogilny to Redden: Burying Contracts In The Minors Is Not A Loophole

In 2006, the New Jersey Devils sent Alex Mogilny down to the minors to create some cap space. By sending the right winger to the minors, his 2 year/$7 million contract would not count against the cap.
Since the Devils sent Mogilny to the minors, other teams have done the same thing. A number of players have found themselves in the minors strictly for cap reasons, including Wade Redden ($6.5M), Sheldon Souray ($5.4M), Jeff Finger ($3.5M) and Ales Kotalik ($3M).

The option of not having a player’s salary count against the cap by placing him in the minors has been referred to as a “loophole” that exists in the NHL CBA.

The NHL CBA: The Intended Consequence

The term "loophole", however, may not be accurate. A loophole is an unintended consequence. This scenario, however, was not unintended – it was contemplated by the CBA.

Article 50.9(g) of the CBA provides that a player’s salary will not be counted against the cap if that player is in the minors. Here’s the provision:
Minor League Compensation. Neither the salaries nor signing bonuses paid to minor league Players shall be counted against a Club's Upper Limit or the Players' Share.
The language in the clause is clear – minor league player salaries don’t count against the cap.

Let’s add to that. If you go back a few pages in the CBA, you will come across Article 50.2(c)(iv), which expressly states that a player’s salary will count against the cap if that player signed his contract when he was 35 years of age (as of June 30 before the contract kicks in) or older even if that player is sent to “the minor leagues”. That same clause says that the team does get a $100,000 worth of relief if it sends a 35+ player to the minors.

Here’s the clause:
For each League Year, "Actual Club Salary" for each Club shall be calculated as the sum of the following amounts:
All Player Salary and Bonuses earned in a League Year by a Player who is in the second or later year of a multi-year SPC which was signed when the Player was age 35 or older (as of June 30 prior to the League Year in which the SPC is to be effective), regardless of whether, or where, the Player is playing, except to the extent the Player is playing under his SPC in the minor leagues, in which case only the Player Salary and Bonuses in excess of $100,000 shall count towards the calculation of Actual Club Salary;
A similar provision does not exist for players who are not part of the 35 or older club. If the sides had agreed to it, a similar provision would have been in the CBA. But it’s not. So it stands to reason that its exclusion was intentional.

Given the language in the CBA, both sides knew that by not counting minor league compensation against the cap, there's was a real possibility that NHL players could be sent down to the minors to save on cap space.


This was likely the product of a compromise. NHL teams wanted to have some type of cap space relief for underperforming players and bad contracts. The NHL may have tried, by way of example, not to have buyouts count against the cap. However, they do. So the compromise was being allowed to send players to the minors to create cap room (with the exception of 35+ players).

From the NHLPA’s perspective, players would still be getting paid NHL salaries in the minors so they were happy. So for the NHLPA, this was an acceptable area of compromise.

Realistically speaking, the NHLPA knew that there were only a few teams that could afford to bury contracts in the minors solely for cap reasons. Indeed, this has been borne out by the facts as relatively few players have been sent to the minors for cap reasons.

There is also another relief valve – placing players on long-term injured reserve. As explained here, if a player is deemed “unfit to play”, the team can place him on LTIR, and by doing so, can exceed the cap in an amount equal to that player’s salary if needed.

So being able to bury contracts in the minors is not a loophole. Rather, it’s a valve to relieve salary cap pressure on teams - and one that was collectively bargained by the NHL and NHLPA.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The NHL CBA & Chris Pronger's Contract: One For The Ages

Chris Pronger, the 37 year old defenceman for the Philadelphia Flyers, is suffering from post-concussion syndrome and his condition is not improving according to his wife Lauren. This according to

“I think this is very, very frightening for Chris. He’s been able to battle through so much and come out of it, but this is different for him. This is really tough on Chris. He wants to be out here more than anyone. This is his life, this is his passion. And this is tough… Unfortunately, I can’t report any major improvement. I certainly wish I could. It’s very disheartening.”

“I see a lot of differences in Chris,” she said. “Just hoping to have a couple good days in a row and see him back to his normal self again. I know he wants this, too. It’s very frightening to him, too.”

Lauren goes on to say that her husband’s personality has changed as a result of his illness (which is not uncommon):

“He is not himself and it’s not in a good way. I just want him to get  better. He still has a long life to live, three kids and a wife and everything. Right now, we’re just hoping for his health to come back. That is our priority.”

Pronger's Contract & Why 34 Is The New 35

At this point, the prognosis appears to be grim and Pronger's career may be over. Of course, the hope is that he recovers and can resume a normal healthy life.

But what about his contract? In 2010, Pronger signed a 7 year deal worth $34,450,000 with the Flyers. The cap it on the deal is $4,921,429 (remember the cap hit is the average yearly value of a contract and not what a player makes in a specific season).

The NHL CBA provides that a player's contract does not count against the salary cap if that player retires. However, there is an exception found at Article 50.2(c)(iv) of the NHL CBA: when a player aged 35 or older signs a multi-year contract, his cap hit will continue to count every year of the contract, even if the player retires before the contract is up.

When Pronger signed the contract in September 2009, he was 34 years old. He turned 35 the next month on October 14. However, when he signed the contract, he was 34 years old. So if Pronger retired, whatever would be left on his contract would not count against the cap - right?


That same Article 50.2 says that a player's age when he signed the contract isn't his age when he put pen to paper. Rather, it's his age "as of June 30 prior to the League Year" in which his new contract takes effect.

While Pronger signed his contract when he was 34 years old, he turned 35 in October - which is well before the June 30 date. So that means that Pronger was deemed to be 35 when his contract kicked in.

Consequently, as per Article 50.2, if Pronger retires his salary will still count as against the cap because he was 35 when he signed the contract.

Did The Flyers Know Pronger Was Really 35 years Old?

The next question is whether the Flyers knew Pronger would be considered 35 years old for the purpose of the CBA.

I can't say for sure. However, the surrounding circumstances suggest it is possible that the Flyers missed something.

Pronger makes most of his money in the first 5 years of his contract, taking home $33,400.00 of his $34,450,000. In the last 2 years of his deal, however, he makes just $525,000 per season. Pronger would be 40 and 41 years old in those last two seasons.

This strongly suggests that the Flyers and Pronger did not expect the defenceman to play out the last two years of his deal, when he would have been in his 40s. His salary is so low that it suggests that the final 2 years of the deal were included strictly to artificially lower the yearly cap hit. By adding in those 2 years, the cap hit dropped from $6.68 million to $4.9 million.

So if the Flyers didn't expect Pronger to play into his 40s, then it is reasonable to conclude that the team expected him to retire. If that's the case, and assuming no team wants to be saddled with a $4.9 cap hit for 2 years for someone who is playing shuffleboard with Betty White and Gavin MacLeod, then the assumption seems to be that the Flyers may have thought Pronger's salary would not count against the cap since he was 34 years old when he signed the contract.

If the Flyers knew that Proger would be considered 35 years old under the CBA, then his contract would have likely been structured differently.

Any Relief For The Flyers?

The Flyers have placed Pronger on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). By doing so, the team gets some cap relief.

This is explained in Article 50.10(d) of the CBA, which provides that a team may receive cap relief if a player has a "bona-fide long-term injury" that causes the player to miss at least 10 games or 24 days. The test is whether the player is "unfit to play", which according to the CBA includes things like being "injured, ill or disabled and unable to perform his duties as a hockey player".

If a player is placed on LTIR, his cap hit still counts against the team's payroll (50.10(d)(ii). However, the injured player can be replaced with a healthy player even if the replacement player's salary takes the team over the cap. The replacement salary, however, can't exceed the salary of the injured player (50(d)(iii). That's why I call the healthy player a replacement player. It can also be multiple players replacing one player.

The NHL can also challenge whether a player is really unfit to play.

In this case, the big question is whether the Flyers can keep Pronger on the LTIR until his contract is up in 2017?

There is nothing in the CBA preventing the Flyers from placing Pronger on the LTIR until 2017. So long as the team can show that Pronger is "unfit to play", he can sit on the LTIR, which effectively means, his salary won't count against the cap.

So for the Flyers it would make about $5 million dollars more sense to have Pronger sit on the LTIR then retire.

Monday, February 20, 2012

LinEconomy – His Worth & Defending His Name

Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin is making $800,000 this season. However, he’s worth more than that – a lot more.

Knicks owner Madison Square Garden’s stock has jumped 7% to close this past Thursday at $31.87 from its close at $29.77 on February 7 when Lin first entered the Knicks’ starting lineup. That’s a difference of $170 million.

As reported by Forbes, ticket sales have also seen a dramatic jump. Ticket prices for home games have gone up 25%. As well, tickets prices have gone up on the road for Knick games.

“We’ve seen an increase of 10x in site traffic and ticket sales,” says Joellen Errer, head of communications at online ticket seller Stub Hub. “Page views, search activities increased. As soon as he hit the game winning three-pointer on Tuesday, prices have risen 2-3x.”

There’s also the retail side of things too. Lin jerseys are flying off shelves. Some estimates have jersey sales generating close to $2 million.

TV ratings are also up, which means networks can charge more for ads. Let’s not forget the tax man, who is seeing more money in the form of sales tax.

Nike has a deal with Lin. Once it puts together a shoe, expect to see sales soar.

Jeremy Lin’s lawyers have filed the two U.S. trademark applications for the marks LINSANITY and JEREMY LIN.

One reason for the applications – the inherent value in these marks and looking to protect them moving forward.

The other reason – two people (Andrew Slayton and Yenchin Chang) have filed their own U.S. trademark applications for LINSANITY. So Lin's lawyers will look to push they guys off the mark.

There is also the issue as to who may capitalize on the LINSANITY mark - the Knicks or Lin himself. As an employee of the Knicks, and with the mark so tightly connected to his job, the Knicks may be discussing this with Lin's team.

Clearly, Lin’s appeal is translating into some dollars and people looking to capitalize on the equity in his name.

Here's your U.S trademark application for LINSANITY:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Impact Will A New NHL CBA Have On Trade Deadline Day?

As we approach the NHL trade deadline day (a new national holiday in Canada), we must ask what impact will a new CBA have on trades.

The CBA puts in place a competitive financial framework which teams must abide by. The conditions of the framework of course include the salary cap and the salary floor. At this point, there is no telling how these two issues, which are joined at the CBA hip, will resolve themselves. The league may look to push the floor down, while the NHLPA will likely resist a decrease in the salary floor. 

As well, the share of revenue allocated to players (presently at 57%) will likely drop, which means the salary cap may stay the same - or worse for the players - drop. Much depends on what projected revenues are for the upcoming season.

There is also talk of a possible amnesty clause allowing teams to get rid of one problem contract. The amnestied player would be waived by the team and the salary would no longer count against the cap. The team, however, would still have to pay that player.

As well, will the new CBA close the loophole that allowed teams to send players to the minors and not have that salary count against the cap? (Cue Wade Redden). Currently, being able to send a player to the minors with a view to burying a contract undermines competitive balance - the whole point of a cap world.

If a team no longer has the option of burying a contract in the minors, would they risk trading for a player who may see a decline in production in a couple of years? Would that make it less likely that a team may take on a big contract?

If the floor drops, would teams be more likely to trade players away?

If the salary cap drops, would teams be as eager to trade for players?

If there is an amnesty clause, would teams consider trading for a quick fix now and look to possibly cut that player come the end of the season? That would be a true rental player. One and done.

There are a number of uncertainties associated with the new CBA such that it could have a real impact on how teams choose to manage trade deadline day - or draft day (another big trade day). 

Will be interesting to watch. I welcome your views in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

From The Packers To The Coyotes: Can Fans Own Teams?

Stew Radawec, who plans to run for Glendale City Council in the Cactus District, wondered if the Phoenix Coyotes could raise money by selling shares to fans. The money raised would help keep the team in Phoenix and cover things like operating expenses.

The thinking was – the Green Bay Packers do it so why can’t the Coyotes do it.

The Packers: Publicly Owned

Indeed the Packers do it. The Packers are the only community-owned franchise in North American professional sports. It sells shares and has over 102,000 shareholders. Founded in 1919, the Packers have been doing this since 1923.

In 2011, the team sold 280,000 shares at $250 a piece to raise $70 million. The money would go to the $143 million expansion of Lambeau Field. The shares could be purchased at

Before that, the team sold shares in 1923, 1935, 1950 and 1997.

Prior to the 2011 stock sale, there were 112,015 people, representing 4,750,934 shares, who could lay claim to a franchise ownership interest.

Being owned by the community has ensured that the team would not move. The city of Green Bay has a population base a shade over 100,000. Before the NFL secured massive TV deals (in 2014 each NFL team will get about $250 million share in TV money), the Packers could have easily moved to a bigger city.

Packer Stocks: What You Get & Don’t Get

The Packer shares are not like your traditional shares. This is what you get and don’t get:

Stocks Give You:

- call yourself an NFL owner
- attend annual meetings
- meet team executives
- tour of Packers Hall of Fame

Stocks Don’t Give You:

- no dividends
- doesn’t go up in value/no profit
- can only transfer them to immediate family
- can't go to Ryan Grant’s house, cut him and build around James Starks

The shares also give fans something intangible – a real sense of ownership over a team - however illusory that may be.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the shares are expensive memorabilia. Still they have their appeal.

Can Other Teams Offer Shares?

Short answer is no (as a lawyer, short answers trouble me because they don’t pay the mortgage). League bylaws, including in the NHL, prohibit the sale of shares as the Packers have done. The NFL bylaws also exclude this practice – although the Pack are the exception.

So that means that the Coyotes can’t sell shares with a view to subsidizing the team.

Why can’t teams do it? That’s an interesting question. First, when you sells shares you have to make your financial statements public. The Packers do (and that’s where we get a lot of clues as to how the NFL is run). Leagues don’t like to share their financials so that by itself is reason enough to prohibit the sale of shares.

There may also be another reason – an emotional reason. Leagues may not be comfortable with fans claiming ownership of teams and demanding things of the team on that basis. Team are likely far more comfortable with owners owning and fans, well, fanning.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Iowa Woman Sells Phantom SUPER BOWL Tickets

At least $500,000 worth of tickets to the Super Bowl and other premier sporting events were not delivered by Iowa woman Ranae Van Roekel, who is now under investigation for selling phantom tickets more than a year before the events.

One man bought $100,000 worth of Super Bowl tickets from Van Roekel. That complaint came in after another person spent $180,000 on tickets for the Super Bowl and other events.

The investigation began last week when a former Iowan living in Florida complained that Super Bowl tickets he allegedly bought from Van Roekel never arrived. As many as 50 people in Montana reported not receiving tickets sold to them by Van Roekel.

Super Bowl tickets are controlled by the NFL. Of the tickets to the big game game, 17.5% went to the Giants, 17.5% to the Patriots, 5% to the Colts, and 1.2% each of the 29 remaining NFL teams.

The NFL sells the rest to the media, business partners and the NFLPA. Only about 500 tickets are sold to the general public by the NFL through a lottery.

The SUPER BOWL Trademark & What Not To Say

"When we become aware of a potential violation, we will be very aggressive, and sending a cease and desist letter would be the first step" NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

What is Mr. McCarthy referring to? The use of the trademark SUPER BOWL by unauthorized third parties. Only a handful of authorized parties were permitted to use the SUPER BOWL trademark in association with the promotion of whatever they were selling.

The NFL has 22 official marketing partners that pay north of $100 million annually to be affiliated with the league. Sponsors include Pepsi, Verizon, Motorola and Castrol. Although there is no specific sponsorship of the Super Bowl, NFL sponsors have the right to use the game's name and logo in their own marketing efforts.

The average fan will spend $63 on merchandise, clothing and snacks, with total consumer spending for this year's Super Bowl expected to reach a record $11 billion.  Personally I spent $1484 on wings. I am now obese.

So being an authorized licensee of the NFL is not cheap. For that reason, the NFL has to make sure that its existing partners that pay a pretty penny to use the mark don't get upset when unauthorized parties use the mark for free. As well, trademark owners generally need to protect their marks to ensure that only authorized parties use them. That's a basic trademark principle. 

The NFL will send out cease and desist letters requiring a business to stop using the mark. That's where they start and generally parties stop using the mark.

In order to take advantage of the SUPER BOWL, businesses like bars use wording like "The Big Event" or "The Big Game" to get around the issue. Electronics retailer H.H. Gregg Inc. promoted a Super Sale. Pizza Hut promoted its Big Deal for the Big Game offering any pizza for $10. I ordered 3000 pizzas. I remain obese.

So businesses have gone with closely associated wording without using the SUPER BOWL mark or something confusing with it.

Businesses get that there is tremendous value in associating themselves with the most watched TV event of the year. These businesses need to make sure the don't go too far though.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tweaking An Old Axiom

The old saying was that if they can trade Wayne Gretzky, they can trade anyone.

In a cap world, we should tweak it to this - if they can trade Scott Gomez, they can trade anyone.

There is hope, then, for all big, immovable contracts. You just never know.

Super Bowl Fun Facts: From The Cost of Super Bowl Rings to Historic TV Numbers

Straight from the NFL, here's some good information about the Super Bowl:

Super Bowl Host Cities (I – XLVI)

South Florida (10)       
New Orleans (9)                                 
Los Angeles (7)                       
Tampa Bay (4)            
San Diego (3)
Arizona (2)
Atlanta (2)
Detroit (2)
Houston (2)
Indianapolis (1)
Stanford (1)
Jacksonville (1)
Minneapolis (1)
North Texas (1)


With 162.9 million viewers in the U.S., last year’s game was the most watched program in television history. It marked the 4th consecutive record-setting total audience for the Super Bowl. Number two is Colts-Saints with 153.4 viewers. The game was broadcast to 180 countries and territories in over 30 different languages. 

What The Players Get Paid

Wild Card Game - Division Winner: $22,000
Other Team: $20,000

Divisional Playoff Game: $22,000

Conference Championship: $40,000

Super Bowl - Winning Team- $88,000
Super Bowl - Losing Team - $44,000
Pro Bowl - Winning Team - $50,000
Pro Bowl - Losing Team - $25,000

According to the NFL “A player on a division winner participating in the Wild Card round and winning the Super Bowl will receive a total of $172,000.  A player on a Wild Card team which wins the Super Bowl will receive a total of $170,000”.

Lombardi Trophy & Rings

Cost of the Vince Lombardi Trophy: $25,000

Who Makes the Vince Lombardi Trophy: Tiffany & Co. of New York

Cost of Super Bowl Rings: The NFL pays for up to 150 rings at $5,000 per ring (plus adjustments for increases in gold and diamonds). The NFL also pays for 150 pieces of jewellery for the losing team which may not cost more than one-half the price set for the Super Bowl ring.