The Surprising Football and Wine Connection

Former head coach Dick Vermeil is one of the leaders of the new connection between pro football and the wine industry

For years the NFL has been known for quarterback sacks, halftime snacks, and of course the league’s beverage of choice, BEER.  But hold-up for a minute, a more sophisticated movement is afoot around the league and it has to do with combining football with the cultured beverage, Wine.

That’s right… the big tough guys of the NFL are apparently entering the realm of the wine and cheese crowd.  In a great piece by columnist Joshua Green from The Atlantic, he tells the story that the league’s wine crowd has grown further than tough-love former head coach Dick Vermeil starting his Vermeil Wines from Napa Valley.

Other retired NFL players Joe Montana, Drew Bledsloe and Rick Mirer also are active in the industry as wine-makers. Even the J-E-T-S are commemorating the opening of their new stadium with a wine.  However when talking wine and the NFL, the “key” word for players and coaches is “Retired” as the league will not allow current players and coaches to be associated in endorsing alcohol products. 

After a rash of NFL related alcohol related incidents, league commissioner, Roger Goodell, decided in 2008 that alcohol was a No-No for endorsement – funny that this edict did not reach some of the boorish alcohol-fueled fans that pack NFL stadiums or the many big beer company football ad buyers.

It is too bad that the NFL does not allow “active” personnel to be alcohol related endorsers – remember the great “Tastes Great…Less Filling” ads from the ‘70s with NFL players like LC Greenwood and Bubba Smith.  But I digress… the commissioner’s stance has forced current NFL star and budding wine aficionado, Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, to “quietly” be part of the wine crowd. 

The current NFL Defensive Player of the Year has a budding wine label TwentyFour – after his jersey number – that is getting attention in wine circles.  Unfortunately Woodson has been told by the league that he cannot promote his label while still being an active player – that means he cannot even comment on one his wines.

So let’s keeping score here — domestic violence, illegal guns, and wine-making are all against league policy…ok I was just checking.  However even though the league offices have quieted Woodson’s wine activities for now — which I don’t agree with the commissioner’s “Large Net” policy – I am calling on all NFL fans to put a good bottle of wine out too for their next halftime spread.

BTW:  I have to give a “Hat Tip” to good friend Bryan Kolesar of The Brew Lounge for enlightening me to the growing wine movement in the NFL…funny that a ‘craft beer guy’ likes wine too.


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

4 Responses

  1. All things in good taste, LV, all in good taste :)

    Btw, football players aren’t the only ones in the sporting world getting in on the grape-y goodness. Baseball players have been doing the same for a little while now.

    And Mike Schmidt uncorked a Zinfandel named ‘548’ for charity a couple of years ago. (catch a review over at this Philly-based link) Ernie Banks, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Reyes, Jorge Posada, and Chipper Jones are just a few others to name a few.

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