Super Bowl 50 is all set, the Carolina Panthers continued their incredible season with a blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals and Tom Brady’s magic came up just one play short in the Denver Broncos victory over the New England Patriots. It’s Broncos vs. Panthers, the flashy young quarterback against the near-forty vet hoping for one more ring… Should be a great game two weeks from now.
With every championship, merchandise celebrating the victorious teams is available immediately following the game, it’s usually the first commercial you see after the final whistle… for merchandise to be ready that quickly it all has to be designed and produced well in advance of the final outcome, this results in all sorts of merchandise for the team that loses the championship, a cap or t-shirt celebrating something that never happened. We call this “phantom champions” merchandise.
Click any of the images below for a closer look
First up, the 2015 AFC Phantom Champion New England Patriots:
Followed by their opponents in the Phantom Super Bowl 50, the Arizona Cardinals:
Speaking of phantom opponents, there’s also a whole host of “phantom matchup” stuff. Starting with a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVIII, Carolina vs. New England:
Or, Arizona vs. Denver:
And finally the “Phantom Bowl” itself, the two losing teams — Arizona vs. New England:
We were also able to get a look at some of the official locker room t-shirts for teams that didn’t even qualify for the conference championships, which is actually quite unusual. Not sure why these items were produced so early, but take a look:
What happens to this merchandise? Some of it probably isn’t actually produced, like the Chiefs or Steelers conference champions shirts, just designed and ready to print. Others, like the Patriots and Cardinals gear is either destroyed or donated, sometimes showing up in third-world nations sometimes even popping up in the odd discount or thrift shop in the United States.