Darren Rovell's Proposed NFL Is A Hellscape Of In-Game ShillingS

The future of football is a hash of overheard corporate gibberish, and of course it's Darren Rovell who conceived it for us.

As Peyton Manning's cryptic, insistent repetition of "OMAHA" during audibles has become a national object of curiosity, the ESPN reporter scored the quasi-apocalyptic scoop that an eponymous steakhouse chain would consider paying Manning for his inadvertent product placement.

Ever the price tag fetishist, Rovell apparently posed this hypothetical scenario to a couple of firms that dream up dollar amounts for this sort of promotion. What would it be worth for a quarterback to be heard barking [beer name or pizza name or truck name or airline name] as an audible? The elephantine numbers conjured for the conference finals are $150,000 and $500,000 per televised mention. For the Super Bowl, those figures apparently are $400,000 and $1.3 million.

An astute reader might assume the true amount would fall somewhere in between. A more astute reader might look at alleged estimates separated by a factor of 3.3 and decide no one here knows what the red hell they're blind-guessing at.

But if the amount is in that neighborhood — or even in the same stultifying suburb — we can look forward to teams signing deals that incorporate sponsors' names into the signal-calling. What's the difference, after all, between Omaha and any other distinct word? Teams could hire quarterbacks who like to audible, those capable of diagnosing and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. Because, hey, $150,000 here, $1.3 million there, and pretty soon you're talking real fliff.

For all we know Rovell may be onto something here, as he peers over the hill and warns us of madness to come. In this cockamamie dystopia, even as you try to listen in to broadcasts, to gain greater insights to the game you love, your brain will be colonized by the names of sodas and sports bars and deodorants, and we'll all be made a couple of rungs stupider, our attention spans divvied and auctioned by people who assess value by reading six- and seven-figure numbers off a blank space on the corner of their ceilings, people who slap a FOR SALE sticker on everything everywhere and consider themselves geniuses when the thing actually sticks.

Omaha Steaks mulls Manning deal [ESPN.com]

Photo credit: AP