If you want a very subtle indicator of what a team thinks of a certain player, a lot of truth can be parsed from the price of that player's merchandise in team stores and distributors in the area.
This dawned on me a couple of years ago during the NFL lockout, when I took my kids to Cowboys Stadium for a tour of Jerry World. While we were waiting for the tour to begin, we were hanging out in the Cowboys team store. They had jerseys for nearly every player who mattered, including a whole rack of Marion Barber jerseys.
Barber, who had been a productive, bruising running back for the Cowboys for six seasons, was thought to be on the bubble after a 2010 where his average yards per carry dropped by over a full yard from 2009. Well, the rack of Barber jerseys were on discount, I believe over 50 percent off.
A Barber clearance!
That confirmed it for me. Barber was going to be gone as soon as the lockout lifted. Sure enough, the lockout ended, July 28 came and Marion Barber was gone.
This is now relevant to Houston because, with a new sheriff in town, there is a glut of merchandise out there in the market with images of players who are about to no longer be part of the team moving forward. These items need to be priced accordingly.
Generally, the only people who would want the merchandise of a player who we know will no longer be part of the team moving forward would include, and absolutely be limited to, the following:
* The player himself * The player's family * The president of that player's fan club * Anyone looking to start a museum or Hall of Fame for average to mediocre quarterbacks * The homeless
Which brings us to these Matt Schaub T-shirts that a Twitter follower of mine spotted at the H-E-B in Bellaire:
— John Eyster (@eyster1) January 23, 2014
Perhaps you've heard ofE. Jerome McCarthy's
four P's of marketing, where there are four touch points that any business should consider when trying to effectively move its product. Let's critique the H-E-B in Bellaire as relates to the E. Jerome McCarthy marketing model:
1. Product Where to begin. Okay, first, this shirt has the words "Play Like a Champion" and "Schaub" within the same square foot. Unless there's a board game or bar trivia game of which Schaub is a champion, then the shirt is a sham. Also, the font used for Schaub's name gives off more of a "gourmet pie baker" vibe than an "average NFL quarterback" vibe. This is truly a bad T-shirt.
2. Price I think $15.50 is a tad aggressive if the target audience is actual football fans. Like I think they overshot it by about forty bucks. (I tried to figure out how much someone would need to pay me to wear that shirt, and $25 for one day sounded about right.) The only way you pay for that shirt is if you need a booby prize for your fantasy football league, that's it. Loser has to wear it to work for a week or something.
3. Promotion Um, dude (I'm addressing H-E-B as "dude"), rule number one of promotion -- proofread your sign!! "Texasn"? "Schuab"???
4. Place On the heels of Matt Schaub's soul-crushing 2013 season, I would think that the odds of moving any Matt Schaub merchandise become better relative to the increased distance from the center of the city of Houston at which they are being sold. The H-E-B in Bellaire is essentially "ground zero" for trying to move Matt Schaub gear. Anybody outside of the subset of people outlined above the tweet with the picture in it should not be buying this gear in Bellaire!
HEB McCARTHY 4 P's GRADE: F
MY SOLUTION: Set up merchandise stands outside the home of Marshall Faulk, who apparently thinks that because Matt Schaub was less bad than David Carr, the Texans may keep him:
— Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) January 22, 2014
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Ultimately, my prediction is that the H-E-B in Bellaire will wind up with a shelf full of unsold Schaub T-shirts, and those shirts will meet the same fate as the unused "World Championship" T-shirts of teams that lose in the Super Bowl, World Series or NBA Finals.
They'll be sent to the Congo or to Zaire, where thousands of children will grow up thinking Matt Schaub was a great NFL quarterback.