Dale Earnhardt Jr. loves the NFL, and he specifically, absolutely loves Washington’s pro football team. (The District of Columbia, not Seattle.)
So when news broke a while back that Earnhardt would be sporting an NFL-team themed car for Pocono next weekend, it seemed like a perfect match. Until, that is, we learned which team it’d be:
Axalta has teamed up with the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington’s NFC East rival, to put together an Eagles-themed Axalta car that Earnhardt Jr. will have to drive at the Pocono 400 in June.
Oh no! A division rival! That’s hardly fair, especially since thanks to what would be poor optics, you likely won’t see a Washington-themed car anytime soon. (Even with Joe Gibbs still heavily involved.)
Here’s what it would have looked like:
— Anthony Bonagura (@BonaguraEagles) April 5, 2017
Team aside, that’s actually a pretty sweet looking scheme. Now, though, Earnhardt is getting a bit of a reprieve, thanks to an unlikely savior: NFL policy.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Axalta issued statements Friday explaining why the paint scheme, which would highlight Axalta’s All-Pro Teachers program.
An NFL provision states that club marks cannot be used in connection with the promotion or presentation of another sport. That forced the Axalta All-Pro Teachers logo to be removed from the paint scheme of the No. 88 car. Earnhardt will race with the traditional Axalta paint scheme at Pocono.
Well, that’s a fun little policy twist. It’s a bit odd that a team can’t promote itself via channels like NASCAR, considering the general lack of competition between the two sports, aside from the fact that both hold events on Sundays in the fall. But the NFL is the NFL, and odd, perfunctory enforcement of inscrutable rules is most certainly on brand for that league.
Earnhardt retweeted the announcement, but didn’t comment on it any further; he had to be in a tough spot, as a NASCAR driver will do a lot of things before he says anything negative about a sponsor, even if it’s lighthearted, as anything from Dale Jr. would be. But still, this is his last season. It’s safe to say he’s happy he didn’t have to spend one of his final races in an Eagles car.