SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Game Changers

Game Changers: Tracy Perlman

Photo: ESTHER NISANOVA / NFL
Perlman’s priorities include yoga, her goddaughter
and football.
Tracy Perlman
NFL
VP, Entertainment Marketing and Promotions

Tracy Perlman started working for the NFL 20 years ago, when the Internet was a government project and NFL Sunday Ticket was something that got you into a game. How things have changed. “It was almost like a family business,” Perlman said.

With the NFL now as much a media business as a football-event company, marketing is considerably more hand-in-glove. Perlman is the one integrating the NFL with the rest of the entertainment scene. “We want to be so embedded that it’s authentic,” she said. Like when you turn on “The Office” and they’re playing NFL fantasy football. Or when NFL stars like Drew Brees and Tim Tebow appear on “The Biggest Loser.”

The Super Bowl halftime concert, another staple that didn’t exist when Perlman started, has become her oeuvre. U2’s poignant 9/11 tribute at Super Bowl XXXVI and Prince’s unforgettable set, delivered in a driving rainstorm, at Super Bowl XLI (he closed with “Purple Rain”) are her favorites. “Prince appeared in Pepsi’s ad for the show, and U2 gave us access to their music beforehand,” she said. “They both gave great shows and sold lots of music afterwards. Cooperation can take something as big as [the] Super Bowl and make it even bigger.’’   

— Terry Lefton
  • Crowning professional achievement: Closing down Times Square after 9/11 for our concert in 2002, which started our Kickoff ritual.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: I have never watched a Super Bowl; too busy running around during the game.
  • What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?: Never be afraid to speak your mind at a meeting.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Roger Goodell, who always asked me along the way how long I wanted to be here and where I wanted to be. Twenty years later, we’re both here.
  • Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Marta Karolyi.
  • My vision of success is …: A staff that is just as successful to share it with.
  • Outside of work and family, I’m spending a lot of my time on …: Health and fitness. The shock of turning 40 a few years ago has me doing yoga almost every day.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“It’s almost incomprehensible to think about the level of planning and execution Tracy is responsible for on the biggest stages in sports. She does it all with a smile and somehow still has time to spend with sponsors to find out what’s going well and where the areas for improvement are.”

  • Kern Egan, founder and principal at Haymaker, the former Richards Sports & Entertainment, which has NFL sponsor Bridgestone as a client
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