The "Hardest-working team in football" award is often bestowed upon the team that captures the world-championship Super Bowl trophy each January. With the 1999-2000 football season nearing, the hardest-working team just may be the folks behind the scenes, those who enable die-hard fans to enjoy the total football experience, the National Football League's production staff.
With an in-house, Los Angeles-based staff of six art directors and three print production/manufacturing members, the NFL scores an annual touchdown by miraculously producing hundreds of print projects each season. From business cards to stadium programs, from marketing kits to coffee-table books, the NFL's production and manufacturing staff (Dick Falk, director of manufacturing; Tina Dahl, director, print services; and Lawson Desrochers, traffic and production coordinator) tackles a wide range of production challenges.
For Tina Dahl, the most taxing NFL project is one of great magnitude and profile: the Super Bowl, which includes fast-turnaround printing of game tickets, stationery, party invitations, post-season media guides, posters and game program.
In the Super Bowl's case, "fast turnaround" is an inadequate term. While production planning begins long before the big game, Dahl and her colleagues have a mere two weeks (from the date on which the two teams are decided) to produce millions of print items.
Take the Super Bowl challenge
From a manufacturing standpoint, producing the annual Super Bowl ticket is by far the biggest challenge, Dahl asserts. The hallowed ticket serves two purposes: It acts as a vehicle for game admission, and it doubles as cherished sports memorabilia. Fans have been known to hoard ticket stubs for years, in hopes that the bit of history will appreciate in monetary or sentimental worth.
The value placed on a Super Bowl ticket dictates that the utmost care is taken to ensure that the tickets are not easily counterfeited. "It's always a challenge for us," Dahl says, "because we not only have to make the ticket difficult to reproduce, we still have to make it work aesthetically." Specialty processes often provide the solution. While Dahl is tight-lipped about this year's plans for the much-anticipated tickets, she notes that for previous tickets, the NFL has turned to one- and two-channel holograms or sculpted, multi-level embossing.