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Volume 27 No. 6

NFL Season Preview

Texans-Chiefs was the first game played since the preseason was canceled
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Texans-Chiefs was the first game played since the preseason was canceled
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Texans-Chiefs was the first game played since the preseason was canceled
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The "most challenging off-season in NFL history" concluded Thursday night with the Chiefs beating the Texans before a reduced crowd at Arrowhead Stadium, allowing the league to follow through on its pledge that the season "would start as scheduled," according to Ben Shpigel of the N.Y. TIMES. However, whether the season ends as scheduled "remains a mystery," and "so much else about how football is played this season will look, feel and sound strange and disorienting." A number of referees and team personnel during Thursday's game "wore masks on the sideline," including Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who "wore a plastic face shield." The main challenge now for the NFL "will be maintaining a safe environment and the same vigilance over reducing exposure risk once games begin, as teams travel and increase potential for contact" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/11). NBC's Al Michaels began the Texans-Chiefs broadcast by saying, “Folks, it wasn't easy. But let the games begin.” He noted it has been a “tumultuous, unprecedented offseason" with no preseason games and a training camp "like no other.” Before going to a commercial break, Michaels said, "Words I didn’t think I’d utter a few weeks ago: the 2020 NFL season is about to begin” ("Texans-Chiefs," NBC, 9/10).

QUESTIONS REMAIN, BUT THIS FEELS GOOD: YAHOO SPORTS' Terez Paylor notes it felt for months "like the regular season would never come, as offseason practices and preseason games got canceled and everyone pondered how the NFL ... could possibly pull off the testing and contact tracing necessary for games to be responsibly played without a concentrated bubble." But the league "somehow pulled it off" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/11). NBC’s Sam Brock noted the "mere fact the NFL is playing games (is) bordering on the unbelievable." Brock: "With thousands of players and personnel to account for and keep safe, just moving the ball safely down the field remains the top priority" ("Today," NBC, 9/11). In Houston, Brian Smith wonders if the NFL will be "able to pull off what college football currently cannot -- a full, complete season featuring all of its teams." However, he wrote of Thursday's Texans-Chiefs game, "It looked like the NFL. It smelled like the NFL. And it finally felt like the NFL on Thursday night, six months into the sports world’s ongoing off-and-on relationship with the coronavirus pandemic." The game "often felt electric and mostly looked like the real thing" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/11). In Chicago, Dan Wiederer notes there were "serious and justifiable questions as to how football possibly could co-exist with a deadly pandemic ongoing." But he writes, "This feels exciting. And welcome. And perhaps a bit surprising" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/11).

NOW THE REAL EXPERIMENT BEGINS: In DC, Maske & Bieler note the start of the season means the risks now "increase with teams traveling to play games and interacting with each other on the field." There was no preseason to "test the game-day protocols" and "fingers are crossed" throughout the league. Texans and Chiefs players "underwent their last set of pregame coronavirus tests Wednesday morning." The protocols "allowed for a follow-up point-of-care test Thursday, provided the result was available two hours before kickoff, for any inconclusive result Wednesday." The Texans "flew Wednesday from Houston to Kansas City, undergoing their day-before testing before traveling." They had "several floors of their Kansas City hotel to themselves and didn’t so much as share elevators with other hotel guests." They also "utilized additional team buses to maintain distancing onboard" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/11). CBS’ Janet Shamlian said Thursday's game was "more than just the season opener," as it was a "test of the NFL’s new COVID safety measures amid the pandemic" ("CBS This Morning," 9/11).

DAILY TESTING LIKELY TO STAY: PRO FOOTBALL TALKS's Mike Florio cited a source as saying that daily COVID-19 testing that took place throughout training camp "likely will become daily COVID-19 testing throughout the entire season." The NFL is "expected to continue to use both off-site PCR testing (given its higher degree of accuracy) and on-site point-of-care testing as a supplement." The league "privately credits" the NFLPA for "pushing so aggressively for daily testing." It has become clear that the "routine of daily testing helps keep younger players accountable when it comes to avoiding activities that could result in an infection" (NBCSPORTS.com, 9/10).

While the Texans were in the locker room, every Chiefs player stood except for DE Alex Okafor
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
While the Texans were in the locker room, every Chiefs player stood except for DE Alex Okafor
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
While the Texans were in the locker room, every Chiefs player stood except for DE Alex Okafor
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Texans stayed in the locker room during Thursday's season opener against the Chiefs for the playing of both the national anthem and "Lift Every Voice and Sing," and one team exec explained that the move was made "so there would be no misinterpretation of them celebrating one song or throwing shade on the other," according to NBC's Michele Tafoya. Texans Exec VP/Football Operations Jack Easterby indicated that the decision was "not about Black or white, it’s about change.” After coming onto the field following the playing of the songs, the Texans joined the Chiefs at midfield for a moment of unity, and Chiefs President Mark Donovan indicated that was an "idea agreed upon by Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson on behalf of their teams." The players also came up with "seven phrases that appeared on the scoreboard during that moment" that support social change. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that the league respected the players and supported their "extraordinary efforts to effect positive and sustainable change." Tafoya: "That is evidenced by the fact that the league allowed these two teams to use this platform to send their message” ("Texans-Chiefs," NBC, 9/10). Texans S Justin Reid said he "personally wouldn't have been opposed to delaying the start of the game." However, he added that the team had a "conversation about that possibility and questioned whether delaying the start of the game really sends 'a message' if the players still ended up playing" (ESPN.com, 9/10).

PLAYERS SUPPORTED BY TEAMMATES: In Houston, Aaron Wilson reports while the Texans were in the locker room during the national anthem, every Chiefs player stood except for DE Alex Okafor, who "took a knee and raised his right fist above his head" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/11). In K.C., Sam McDowell reports each team had player meetings to "determine its method of protesting social justice." Chiefs TE Travis Kelce said that they "emphasized every player would be supported in his own gesture, a reference to Okafor’s choice to kneel during the anthem." But McDowell notes the two teams "elected to separate the 'moment of unity' from the anthem" (K.C. STAR, 9/11). NBC’s Tony Dungy said, “I hope we don’t get hung up and focused on who’s standing, who’s kneeling, who’s in the locker room, who isn’t. Because that’s not the issue.” NBC's Mike Tirico said, "I’m just looking at the Houston thing and I don't know the specifics, but from the outside they didn’t have full agreement on what to do as a team. So they listened, which is what we hopefully are all doing more of, they came together, they bridged their differences, and they’ve taken action together. Hopefully, that can be a symbol for what all us do here going forward" ("Football Night in America," NBC, 9/10).

NO AVOIDING THE BOOS: The CHRONICLE's Wilson notes some fans at Arrowhead Stadium "loudly booed the players" during the moment of unity. Texans DE J.J. Watt said, "The moment of unity I certainly thought was good. ... The booing was unfortunate. I don’t understand that. There was no flag involved, nothing other than two teams coming together to show unity." Texans coach & GM Bill O'Brien: "Maybe they were just booing us because we had just come on the field as the visiting team" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/11). In K.C., Vahe Gregorian writes more than a few voices "resonated in nasty, embarrassing fashion" when the teams "stood up for social justice with actions including a moment of silence 'dedicated to the ongoing fight for equality in our country.'" That "radical idea was enough to cue the boos as both teams linked arms." While the "vast majority of fans didn’t boo," those who did were "heard plenty and, shame that it was, likely lent more voice and conviction to the very movement they sought to condemn" (K.C. STAR, 9/11). However, SI.com's Jimmy Traina notes a video taken from inside the stadium "paints a slightly different picture" than what came out of Thursday. Traina: "Yes, there was booing, which was absurd, but it wasn't like every person there was booing" (SI.com, 9/11).

In the few NFL stadiums where fans are allowed, reactions to protests will be closely watched
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
In the few NFL stadiums where fans are allowed, reactions to protests will be closely watched
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
In the few NFL stadiums where fans are allowed, reactions to protests will be closely watched
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

UNDER INCREASED SCRUTINY: YAHOO SPORTS' Terez Paylor notes the social media reaction to the moment of unity "served as a stark reminder that in the few NFL stadiums where fans are allowed, the in-the-moment reactions to player-led statements will be closely watched and dissected, especially early in the season" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/11). USA TODAY's Nate Davis writes there are "probably gonna be more somewhat disjointed displays across the league this weekend -- some fans supportive, others not so much." Davis: "It's worth wondering if the primary messaging will get overshadowed ... as it did in 2016" (USA TODAY, 9/11). However, YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel writes the fact that players "standing together during a moment of silence would cause such a reaction from some of the sport’s most devoted fans is one reason the NFL has seemingly stopped worrying about everyone’s opinions." Wetzel: "If nothing else, the scene Thursday, which is expected to play out in various ways across the league this weekend and beyond, is a sign that the NFL is no longer afraid of the backlash from disillusioned fans or [President] Trump himself. This is how it’s going to be, the NFL is saying. Take it or leave it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/11).

SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton notes Thursday's game "could be a preview of the entire opening weekend -- and season -- when continued player protests are anticipated." It also will "likely lead to the type of political blowback the NFL has become familiar with over the past several years, with those pressures surfacing during the heart of a presidential election campaign." President Trump throughout the summer has "continued to assail the player protests during the anthem on the field of play" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/11). SI.com's Conor Orr writes Thursday night's fan reaction could be an "outlier," as observers could be "making the familiar mistake of placing too much attention on a small pocket of people determined to wander through life with their eyes closed." However, this could get "uglier than we ever expected." Orr: "Maybe the NFL continues to be the battleground it never wanted to be, especially as we draw closer to November. ... Will Goodell and the NFL stick with their plan? Will they, like their players, refuse to bend amid the storm?" (SI.com, 9/11).

ROOM TO COME TOGETHER: USA TODAY's Mike Jones writes following an offseason in which the league and its players "simultaneously battled wars on multiple fronts, on Thursday night, the two sides came together and flexed on a national stage, each determined to send clear messages." The NFL is "indeed as powerful and unyielding as owners always believed it was," while the "unified voices and wills of a couple thousand purpose-driven men will not be silenced, and efforts centered on cultivating long-lasting change will not be ignored" (USA TODAY, 9/11).

Dolphins coach Brian Flores on Friday said team owner Stephen Ross "was supportive" of the video released Thursday night in which the team announced they would not be on the field for the national anthem for Sunday's season opener, according to Beasley & Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The "unplanned news conference" was held to discuss the video in which Flores and several players "criticized the NFL’s response to systemic oppression and the resulting civil unrest." It was speculated Ross was the target of the message in the video, but Flores said, "It was directed at everyone. I think every individual in this country can do a little bit more. ... We can all do better. We need to do better. What’s happening in this country and around the world, we need change. It’s something we’ve been saying for a long time. The video speaks for itself.” He pointed out that the video "was player-written and -driven." Flores said he agreed to participate because “they knew where I stand on a lot of these issues” (MIAMI HERALD, 9/11).

POWERFUL DELIVERY: In West Palm Beach, Joe Schad reports the players in the "blistering and powerful two-minute, 17-second video" note they "will stay inside" for both the national anthem and the playing of "Life Every Voice and Sing" on Sunday. Dolphins RB Matt Breida in the video said, "Enough. No more fluff and empty gestures." The players had said this week that they were "working on a unified message and protest." The Dolphins "wanted to make a stand without following along with the plan the league had set forth." Players during the video "criticized NFL owners in general" and "clearly laid out the issues in which they want to see change." Among the issues identified: police brutality, education inequity, courts & prison reform, prescription drug inequities. The players "clearly express their frustration and anger with both the state of society as well as their interpretation of the league's efforts" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/11).

SHIFTING THE CONVERSATION: ESPN.com's Cameron Wolfe noted in the video, 18 Dolphins players -- both Black and white -- "demand that team owners get actively involved in creating political and legislative change." The Dolphins also are the "first team to collectively make a statement regarding protest during the national anthem this season." Players said that they "hope to shift the conversation away from the national anthem to meaningful change." The next focus, with NFL play beginning this week, is to "avoid the movement dissipating amid the distraction that is football." The Dolphins "hope to continue putting pressure on the league and ownership" (ESPN.com, 9/10).

Bears Chair George McCaskey would not give a time frame for when fans would be allowed at Soldier Field but said that the team has "presented a plan to the city of Chicago for how they would welcome back fans when the time is right," according to Colleen Kane of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. McCaskey on Thursday said, "We're told that it is a good plan, but the city wants to see the number of active cases in the city come down before we can bring people to Soldier Field." Meanwhile, Bears players earlier this summer protested police brutality by sitting out a training camp practice; they have pledged further action but "haven't yet revealed their plans." McCaskey: "I do get the sense that players feel freer to voice their opinions, and we're encouraged by that. We want to encourage that. We want Halas Hall to be an environment of inclusion, of candor, of good communication, and it's very heartening to me that players feel comfortable speaking up." McCaskey said that the Bears "will support the players in whatever they decide to do but believes they are interested in more than just kneeling during the anthem." The Bears are in the process of "vetting and streamlining some of the ideas players have presented to them" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/11).

EVOLVING WITH THE TIMES: NBC SPORTS CHICAGO's JJ Stankevitz noted the conversations Bears players, coaches and staff had over the last few months "were not happening in years past." Bears DT Akiem Hicks said, "I've been with Jay (Rodgers, defensive line coach) now for four or five years but there's certain things, you know, conversations that you just haven't had. Right? And (in August) I think we really sat down and just as a group just and broke down some of our feelings about not just football but the world as a whole and shared our experiences." The organization -- starting with McCaskey -- "wants those players to feel empowered, not disparaged." Coach Matt Nagy said, "The biggest thing is the support that everybody here has in the organization from the top down in being able to do what you want to do" (NBCSPORTSCHICAGO.com, 9/10).

Arrowhead Stadium welcomed 22% of its 76,416 capacity for Thursday night's game
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Arrowhead Stadium welcomed 22% of its 76,416 capacity for Thursday night's game
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Arrowhead Stadium welcomed 22% of its 76,416 capacity for Thursday night's game
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Chiefs played before a 22% capacity crowd at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night, and K.C. Mayor Quinton Lucas believes the example put forth by the team and the city "will be a model for the rest of the country" on how to safely bring fans back to stadiums. Lucas, speaking to Yahoo Finance, said city officials "listened to medical advice" outside of just the K.C. Health Department. Officials worked with local doctors, the NFL and the Chiefs medical staff, among others. Lucas noted Arrowhead Stadium is a “large, cavernous stadium” -- its normal capacity is 76,416 --  so officials are “able to keep social distancing." He said, “Everything about the experience will be different than if you went to a game recently in Madison Square Garden or anywhere else. You’ll have that level of spacing, you will have less contact, frankly, with others, you’ll have people that are staying in smaller groups." Lucas said he is "not dramatically concerned we’ll get that many more cases" of coronavirus from those who attended Thursday's game. Lucas: "The protections should work, but it’s something that we’ll continue to look at each week.” While some NFL and college teams are going with a rounder 20% or 25% capacity, Lucas noted K.C. landed at the "weird number” of 22% based on the "measurement of what you need to have rows between people (and) social distancing between your different pod groups" (“The Ticker,” Yahoo! Finance, 9/10).

DOING WHAT THEY CAN: NBC's Sam Brock said officials inside Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday "made it difficult" for attendees to "end up near anybody you don’t know." Many seats "were actually tied shut, except for a given pod." Brock: "Even if you wanted to move around, you really couldn’t” (“Today,” NBC, 9/11). ABC’s T.J. Holmes notes while some sections "had fans spread out in groups, many were seen throughout the game crowded together and cheering, some in masks, some without” (“GMA,” ABC, 9/11).

LOW HANGING FRUIT: CNBC’s Brian Sullivan noted the Chiefs are one of the few teams “to allow anybody in” for the games to start the season. He said of Thursday's crowd in K.C., “It looked like the fourth quarter of a Jets game as far as 20% attendance” (“Worldwide Exchange,” CNBC, 9/11).

SoFi Stadium's debut on Sunday for Cowboys-Rams will be spectator-free, but it "will still be a spectacle," according to Christopher Palmeri of BLOOMBERG NEWS. The stadium is the "vision" of Rams Owner Stan Kroenke, who "wanted an arena that celebrated Southern California and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle its residents enjoy." At $5.5B, SoFi is the "most expensive stadium in the world, and entirely privately financed." It is "designed to capture breezes from the Pacific Ocean, six miles away." The clear plastic roof is "treated so it blocks the sun’s rays" and panels "can be opened to release hot air, enough so that it will be 4 degrees cooler inside than out." There are a "dozen clubs in the stadium where fans can stand or lounge while watching the game." The Corona Beach Club, for example, is "three stories tall." In the Bungalows suites, fans "can sit on stools shaped like tree trunks and just about touch the turf behind the goalpost." There also is a "giant, circular video board with panels as tall as 40 feet," which "floats like a zeppelin inside the arena, visible from the field on the inside and from the seats all around" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 9/10). 

BEHIND THE CURTAIN: The story behind the construction of SoFi Stadium was chronicled Wednesday night on the Science Channel's “NFL Super Stadiums." Rams COO Kevin Demoff said L.A. has been “waiting for a new stadium, the return of the NFL in a grand fashion, for decades.” Demoff added the goal of SoFi is to “reimagine how to best showcase the NFL, but also every event in the world, from the Super Bowl, to the World Cup, to the Olympics." Chargers President of Business Operations A.G. Spanos: “It really needs to be the finest stadium in the world in the entertainment capital of the world on the biggest stage there is.” HKS Architects' Mark Williams: “From day one we wanted this to be a global stage for sports and entertainment for the world." Demoff noted, “The first thing that Stan Kroenke said when we embarked upon this project was, ‘You can't undershoot Los Angeles’” (“NFL Super Stadiums,” Science Channel, 9/9).

MAJOR COLLABORATIONS: Google Cloud and YouTube have both signed sponsorship deals with SoFi Stadium, the surrounding Hollywood Park development and both the Rams and Chargers, making Google Cloud the official cloud sponsor and YouTube the official video streaming sponsor. As part of its agreement, Google Cloud will power a “personal concierge” app that will help fans navigate SoFi Stadium, locate parking and optimize traffic around the 298-acre Hollywood Park development. The app also will personalize offers on tickets, food and shopping. This marks the first time in sports that Google Cloud and YouTube have approached a deal together (Ben Fischer, THE DAILY). Click here for more.

The Rams and Austin-based Nine Banded Whiskey have agreed to a three-year extension of their partnership that began last season. The deal sees Nine Banded Whiskey become an official bourbon partner of the Rams, a change that reflects Nine Banded's move from whiskey to bourbon. The company will make its SoFi Stadium debut in '21. Nine Banded Whiskey co-Founder & CEO Sean Foley negotiated the extension directly with Rams VP/Partnership Sales Jason Griffiths and Partnership Sales Manager Sean Gannon. Foley said he was eager to continue his company’s partnership with the Rams after learning last season that the two parties share many of the same views around community support. “The one thing I was amazed by was what the Rams have done at the community level,” Foley said. “It's really similar to how we've dug in with building Nine Banded in Austin.” With no fans allowed at SoFi Stadium this season, Foley said Nine Banded Whiskey intends to use the first year of the extended partnership to further integrate themselves into the L.A. community at the “Rams-deep level” and “really align at the grassroots level and on the fan/customer level” with the team. Nine Banded Whiskey will partner with the Rams on virtual events, such as watch parties, and community events. The company also will do some influencer content together with the Rams across their social platforms.

ON THE HORIZON: Nine Banded Whiskey already has planned some in-stadium activations at SoFi Stadium for the '21 season. The company will offer signature cocktails, while digital signage and messaging will be present throughout the stadium during home games. Nine Banded Whiskey also will be featured prominently in different suites across the venue. “We thought we had runway, but we really have runway now with SoFi Stadium to have our presence be felt,” Foley said. “People are going to have so much pent-up excitement to step foot in that stadium and will be so awake and aware of their surroundings that it’s going to be that much more impactful for us to be there when it does open up.”

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes are “back for another season of State Farm commercials,” though they do not appear together in the two ads that debuted during Thursday’s season opener, according to Kendra Meinert of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. Both players appear with the “Jake from State Farm” character. Rodgers’ spot “shows him playing fetch with a dog while talking with Jake about what he’s convinced is a special ‘Rodgers rate’ for his insurance.” Meanwhile, Mahomes’ ad has him “talking about getting the ‘Patrick price’ on his insurance while nonchalantly pitching bags into a cornhole board without even looking.” There will be five ads total as part of the campaign starring Rodgers, Mahomes and Jake (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 9/11).

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is adding two new marketing deals to his growing portfolio ahead of the '20 NFL season. He will be the spokesperson for DAZN's NFL coverage in Canada, and he also has launched his own cereal called "Jumpin' JuJu Crunch." The cereal will be available starting Saturday exclusively at Giant Eagle locations, with 100% of the proceeds going to the JuJu Foundation. The cereal was developed with PLB Sports & Entertainment, which also created Flutie Flakes. Smith-Scuster's sponsors include Art of Sport (automotive), Hasbro (entertainment), HyperX and Monster Products (consumer electronics), Oakley (apparel/footwear) and Pizza Hut (dining). See more on Smith-Schuster in SportsAtlas (THE DAILY). THE ATHLETIC's Sean Fitz-Gerald noted Smith-Schuster has emerged as a star off the field as he enters his fourth season, with a "command of social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube." He can alternate from giving fans "a tour of the Steelers locker room" to showing them a "new dance, or both" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/10).

The NFL has three new brands on its sponsorship roster for '20 in Subway, Postmates and Invisalign. Subway took over the league’s QSR category, which had been vacant since the end of the '18 season when McDonald’s opted not to renew. As part of the long-term deal, Subway will receive exclusivity in the QSR and fast-casual restaurant categories. Pizza Hut retains its rights in the pizza category. Also new to the NFL this season is Postmates, which fills a new league category -- official food delivery service. As part of the multiyear deal, Postmates signed on to sponsor major events like the Super Bowl, NFL Draft and Pro Bowl. Official clear aligner is also a new category for the league. Align Technology, the orthodontics company behind Invisalign, signed a deal with the league last month. Two brands who exited deals with the league were Aramark (B2B marketing rights) and Genesis (luxury automobile).

SPONSOR CATEGORY
SINCE
News America Super Bowl FSI
1979
Gatorade (PepsiCo) Sports nutrition
1983
Visa Payment systems services
1995
Campbell’s Soup Soup
1998
FedEx Package delivery services, office supply retailer
2000
Frito-Lay (PepsiCo) Salted snacks/popcorn/peanuts/dips/salsa
2000
Mars Snackfoods (Snickers/Skittles/M&M's) Chocolate/non-chocolate confectionery
2002
Pepsi Soft drinks
2002
Dairy Management Inc. Dairy products (milk/yogurt/cheese)
2003
Bridgestone Automotive tires
2007
Procter & Gamble (Febreze, Secret, Vicks, Head & Shoulders, Gillette, Secret, Old Spice, Tide) OTC grooming, fabric/air care, household needs, OTC remedies
2009
Verizon* Wireless, local long distance telecom services; smart communities services, digital media video services
2010
Barclays Affinity card/rewards program
2010
Castrol Motor oil
2010
Anheuser-Busch Alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, hard seltzer)
2011
USAA** Auto, home, life insurance; military appreciation
2011
Bose Home theater system, headsets, headphones
2011
Courtyard by Marriott Hotel
2011
Microsoft (Surface, Windows) Tablets, laptops, operating systems
2011
Quaker Oats (PepsiCo) Hot cereal, granola bars
2012
Extreme Networks Wi-Fi analytics, network solutions
2013
Zebra Technologies Real time location solutions, on-field player tracking
2014
Nationwide** Auto, home, life insurance
2014
Dannon Yogurt/yogurt-based smoothies
2015
Ford Trucks
2015
Intel Volumetric image/video capture
2017
Amazon Web Services Cloud infrastructure, cloud platform, machine learning, artificial intelligence
2017
Pizza Hut Pizza carry-out, delivery, frozen
2018
Sleep Number Mattresses, sleep tracking, bedding, sleep/wellness
2018
Intuit Financial services
2018
Caesars Casino
2019
Lowe's Home improvement
2019
Oakley Visors
2019
DraftKings Daily fantasy sports
2019
Quicken Loans (Rocket Mortgage) Mortgages
2019
Align Technology (Invisalign) Clear aligner
2020
Subway QSR
2020
Postmates Food delivery
2020

NOTES: * = Verizon's deal for smart communities services and digital media video services is non-exclusive. ** = Nationwide and USAA have co-exclusivity in the auto/home/life insurance category. *** = Amazon Web Services deal is non-exclusive. List does not include the following licensees/partners: SiriusXM, Ticketmaster, Under Armour, New Era, Nike.

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