When the last whistle blew at the Grey Cup in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium Sunday, Adidas team members rushed the field with bags filled with hats and t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Grey Cup Champions” next to the Calgary Stampeders’ logos.
It was a moment a season in the making for the clothing manufacturer’s staff. They take what-if orders from teams at the beginning of the season and cancel the orders as teams are eliminated from the playoffs.
In the end, 144 hats and t-shirts are produced for the east division and west division winners. They’re placed in separate bags and organized so it’s an easy drop for the employees who rush the field at the end of the game. Within seconds, the winners are wearing the Adidas gear.
“The teams and equipment managers are pretty superstitious,” said Adidas Canada spokesperson J.P. Pineau. “They know what I’m doing here with the ‘Champions’ product. They don’t want to know that I’m there so I stay in the background when I’m getting everything ready.”
The bags of the losing team’s merchandise are dropped on the side of the field when the winner is declared before being collected and return to the manufacturer.
“The stuff for the losing team doesn’t actually see the light of day,” Pineau said. “It gets destroyed so it never gets out in the market.”
But one or two sometimes sneak through the system.
During the interview with Global News, an Edmonton Eskimos equipment manager pulled out a ‘Champions’ hat from the 2010 Grey Cup with a Saskatchewan Roughriders logo on it. The Montreal Allouettes won that year.
It’s a fun job for the team but it doesn’t always go as planned.
In 2009, when the Saskatchewan Roughriders were again playing the Montreal Alouettes, the Roughriders were ahead. The Alouettes kicker missed a field goal that would have won the game, but Saskatchewan was called for having too many men on the field. The Alouettes kicked again, made the kick and won the game.
“Our team was there, ready and they had the ‘Champions’ hats for Saskatchewan ready to go and they actually started giving them out after Montreal missed their field goal,” said Pineau.
“The players weren’t too happy we had to take it back from them.”
Pineau said they now wait for that final whistle and make sure it truly is the end of the game before handing out the merchandise.
Hats and t-shirts for the general public went into production the moment the game was over so they would be ready on store shelves starting Tuesday.
Watch below: Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said Sunday he was thrilled to win the Grey Cup championship for coach Dave Dickenson, calling him the “smartest coach out there.”