Mike Tice can't turn a profit on his Super Bowl tickets. But franchises can sell them all they want.
Scrape off all the lies, spin and scapegoating, and that's the reality.
In the coming weeks, as NFL security and the Internal Revenue Service delve into Tice's scalping of his Super Bowl tickets, we will find hypocrisy in abundance. The league will shake a finger at the Minnesota Vikings coach for pawning his tickets to a broker and turning a few thousand dollars in profit. Meanwhile, the league has virtually no rules what teams do when they are given allotments of Super Bowl tickets.
One thing is certain: They can't scalp them like Tice did. Or can't they? It depends how loosely you define scalping.
Here's one story of what happens to some of those other Super Bowl tickets – the ones that don't land in the laps of ticket brokers, yet still find a way to take a chomp out of someone's savings account.
Go back to February of 2004.
That's the year Marcia Kringel, a New England Patriots season-ticket holder, went looking for a pair of Super Bowl tickets. At the time, Kringel owned two season tickets to Patriots games – a pair of club seats she had purchased in 2000. To buy them, she had to sign a 10-year, season-ticket contract for $75,000 ($3,750 per club seat for 10 years).
One would think such a hefty investment would endear a fan to the Patriots if they ever made it to the Super Bowl. And it did – sort of.
Five days before New England was to face the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII, Kringel got a call from the Patriots ticket office. They knew she had been seeking Super Bowl tickets, and they had a way she could buy two of them from the franchise.
It sounded like a no-brainer. Until Kringel heard the price tag.
"In order to get the two Super Bowl tickets, I had to buy them at face value, which was $500 each, and then I had to extend the lease on my club seats another five years," she said. "And during that five-year extension, the price of my two season tickets would be $9,000 a year total – an increase of $1,500 a year more than I was paying on the first 10-year contract."
Kringel was surprised. She hesitated and then agreed to the terms. In simple math, Kringel had already agreed to pay $75,000 over 10 years for her season tickets. Now, just for the opportunity to purchase two Super Bowl tickets for $1,000, she had to sign a $45,000 extension on her season-ticket lease. That's a 15-year, $120,000 commitment to the Patriots.
Just to refresh: When Mike Tice buys his face-value Super Bowl tickets from the league, he cannot, under any circumstances, sell those for a profit. But at the same time, a team like the Patriots can call Marcia Kringel and use two Super Bowl tickets as a carrot to secure a five-year, $45,000 club-seat extension.
It's worth noting that Kringel doesn't regret signing the extension, and knows that she didn't have to agree to it if she didn't want to. She has a good job as a real estate consultant in Worcester, Mass., but she's not exactly an oil magnate. She also sees clearly how the Patriots used Super Bowl tickets as leverage for their own profits. Sort of like Tice, but in a sneakier way.
"Yeah, it's a little bit like scalping," Kringel said. "Of course. They're playing on people who have the immediate desire to take part in something like that. At my age (of 66), I felt like if I didn't, I might never have a chance to again.
"I'm thrilled that I got to go to the Super Bowl. But I will never pay that kind of money to do it again."
- Make no mistake, New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi was definitely trying to send a message to free-agent receiver Plaxico Burress last week. After some fruitless negotiations with Burress' agent, Michael Harrison, Accorsi made the surprising move of announcing on the team's website that the Giants no longer had any interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver. This came after Harrison rejected two surprisingly solid deals from the Giants, including a six-year, $24 million deal with an $8 million signing bonus.
In most NFL circles, the belief is that such a deal (which slightly edges the contract Derrick Mason signed with the Baltimore Ravens) is the ceiling for Burress. But when Harrison rejected it, Accorsi ceased negotiations and issued his statement that they would no longer be pursuing Burress.
Many feel Accorsi was trying to send a message: That Burress should rid himself of Harrison if he wants to get a deal done. Others believe Accorsi saw Harrison as dishonest – that he was trying to play the Giants against phantom interest from other teams to drive up the price on Burress. Whatever the case, Burress got the picture and fired Harrison, and is set to hire Drew Rosenhaus in the coming days. Don't be surprised if Rosenhaus gets a deal done with the Giants, even after all the fuss.
- Speaking of Rosenhaus, he's quickly becoming the preeminent problem solver for players in need of a miracle. Already renowned for constructing the Clinton Portis-for-Champ Bailey deal last summer, and for performing magic with Willis McGahee's career, Rosenhaus is earning the reputation as the agent who can pull off almost anything.
Known for his representation of players from the University of Miami, Rosenhaus was the immediate choice when Burress hit the rocks in free agency. He was also the agent Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James turned to when James decided he wanted a trade. It's also worth noting that Rosenhaus represents more NFL players than any other agent.
- Don't rule Doug Flutie out of the NFL just yet. While the 42-year-old quarterback was released by San Diego last week for cap purposes, one general manager we spoke with said he thinks Flutie will have at least a few opportunities.
"A lot of that will depend on if he wants to move his family again just to play one or two more years," he said. "[The state of quarterbacks] is so bad in some places – especially backups – that he'll get some calls. If Vinny [Testaverde] still has a place, [Flutie] will have some interest. If he doesn't come back, somebody will be tracking him down as soon as a few quarterbacks get banged up next season."
- Troy Brown's time in New England may not be done. Brown isn't getting any looks on the free-agent market and the Patriots would like to get him back, but there is a possibility nothing will be worked out until after the draft, when New England will know exactly what its roster looks like. For now, it's believed the Patriots will focus on cornerback or linebacker with their first-round pick (No. 32 overall).
One dark horse candidate at that spot is Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington, who posted times in the 40-yard dash between 4.25 and 4.3 seconds at the Cornhuskers' pro day. Washington's stock has been rising quickly since he ran a 4.29 in the 40 at the combine and registered a 41½-inch vertical jump. The Colts may also be looking at Washington with the 29th pick if all the other cornerbacks are off the board.
- There have been a few questionable contracts doled out in free agency so far (Jonas Jennings' deal with the San Francisco 49ers comes to mind), but the one that truly raised some eyebrows was the five-year, $17.5 million – with $6 million in bonus money – lavished by the Oakland Raiders on former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derrick Burgess.
Burgess hardly seemed worth that kind of money thus far in his career. While he still has youth, Burgess comes with major injury concerns and never has been a major force as a pass rusher, even opposite Jevon Kearse last season. Worse yet, he can be a liability when teams run right at him. At best, he's been just another undistinguishable defensive end.
- Adam "Pac Man" Jones ran well at last week's West Virginia pro day, with scouts timing him anywhere from 4.3 to 4.4 seconds in the 40. He also posted a vertical of 38½ inches, but the 5-foot-10 cornerback's drills apparently left a little to be desired.
Jones suffered some bad positioning and got disoriented a few times in ball-awareness drills, but it's not expected to be enough to drop him out of the top 10. He's still likely to be the Tennessee Titans' target at No. 6 overall.
West Virginia running back Kay-Jay Harris also had a solid workout, running his 40 in the low 4.5s. Scouts say he's solidified himself as a first-day pick.
- In other pro-day news, Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton showed nice arm strength in his workout and shouldn't drop later than the second round. The Green Bay Packers are said to be very interested in Orton, along with Akron's Charlie Frye.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are said to be very interested in drafting Washington offensive tackle Khalif Barnes if he's still available at the 31st pick in the first round.
- The next Antonio Gates? Three power forwards in college basketball have had their names bandied about as possible NFL tight ends after their senior seasons end – Kentucky's Chuck Hayes (6-5, 245 pounds), Pittsburgh's Chevon Troutman (6-7, 245) and Oakland's Cortney Scott (6-5, 260).