Four years ago, there was a YouTube video that was created for the release of a very popular Nintendo Wii Game called Super Smash Brothers Brawl. The viral video displayed an extremely depressed animated character who roamed his house in beat with the verses of the music; but when the song reached the chorus, the screen erupted into smiley-faces, hearts, and stars, as the character received the package which contained the new video game. He immediately burst into singing the famous tune originally from Sponge Bob, “It’s the best day ever!” After an afternoon at the NFL Headquarters on Day 27 of the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, I found myself humming this same tune the entire way home.
What makes the best day ever? It starts with a viewing of one of every Superbowl Ring ever made, a picture with the Lombardi trophy, and a room full of free food. Continues with a 2011 NFL Season recap produced by NFL Films. Then it’s finished with a roundtable discussion with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), two VP’s and two representatives of the future leaders of the NFL.
When we entered the NFL Headquarters on Park Avenue, we already felt at home. The 90 degree weather we’d walked through was quickly forgotten as a burst of refreshingly cold air welcomed us. Our guide led us up to the sixth floor which in her words, was the “wow” floor. Wowed we were, as barely after our bodies had returned to a normal temperature and we had caught our breath again, we lost it at the site of 46 Super Bowls rings and the Lombardi Trophy. Picture time with the memorabilia was a very stretching experience as I found myself torn between trying to act professional, and showing my avid following of the game by taking pictures with everything. In retrospect, I believe I ended up squarely in the middle of ludicrous behavior. One moment casually observing the change in design on the Patriots rings when they won in 2003-2004, and the next stealing a staff member’s camera and demanding a photo with the Lombardi Trophy. Unfortunately for the amused staff, my comical show ended soon enough as we heard our panel was ready.
We were led into the large conference room and were greeted by a beautiful sight, the emblem’s of our favorite NFL teams on customized hats-one for each of us. Next to the hats was an NFL notebook, which I was excited about but pushed to the side as I had brought my own notebook, and it was full of questions.
Our NFL panel consisted of: Mark Waller Chief Marketing Officer, Peter O’Reilly Vice President of Fan Strategy & Marketing, and Chris Parsons Vice President of NFL International. Also present were Yang Bu (representative of the Junior Rotational Program), and Mayssa Chehata (representative of NFL interns). All five of them had presentations and what made them especially appealing, was that they talked more than just about their personal careers, but talked about what the NFL was doing in their respective areas. They were very open to dialogue and questions. I loved the NFL, so I had my hand raised at every stoppage of time during the meeting. Considering how many questions I asked, they were very gracious to continue to call on me. Working at the NFL is definitely something I hope to do at some point in my career, so getting to learn from them was an incredible experience.
The panel was incredibly gracious and gave us almost three hours of their time on a work day. I would say that I hope none of them got fired, but our panel was so prestigious that the only person who could really fire them is Roger Goodell, the commissioner himself.
At the end of the event, the MSBA Founder Ben Sturner thanked our hosts for giving us so much of their time, providing the food, team hats, and creating such an incredible experience for us. Mark Waller (CMO) responded laughingly but with an undertone of seriousness, that it was just how they do business (everything the NFL does must be of top quality). This is something that I can now attest to first hand. We were just a group of interns getting to see the NFL Headquarters, but it felt like more than that, it felt like we were guests invited into someone’s home. After such an incredible time, now I just want to do my best so I can join their family and work there.