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The Name Game

A contest puts the Crush on local football fans.

Nolan's comments make sense. After all, the team would have been unable to use a previously trademarked name and wouldn't have wanted to be locked in if an organized campaign succeeded in pushing a nasty one like, say, the Denver Neo-Nazis over the top.

In some ways, then, the contest was a bit hinky -- but that's almost always the case with such promotions. A prime example took place in 1999, when radio station KDJM, at 92.5 FM, instituted a new music format known nationally as "jammin' oldies." From the beginning, KDJM referred to itself using the "Jammin'" descriptor -- but it also held a $25,000 contest in which listeners were invited to name the outlet. After a month or two, the winner was announced: a woman who said "Jammin'" sounded so good that KDJM should keep using it. Talk about easy money.

Former Grand Junction resident Tyler Rutt wasn't paid nearly as handsomely for his victory in a naming contest. Back in 1976, when Rutt was twelve, a National Hockey League franchise relocated to Denver, and Channel 9 asked viewers to send along their ideas for a moniker. He submitted "the Colorado Rockies," in part because "there weren't a lot of other names you could come up with for a team in Colorado that weren't derogatory."

Rutt wasn't the only person to have this specific brainstorm, but he was chosen as the winner because, he was told, his letter had the earliest postmark. His bounty included some collectibles so fabulous that he no longer remembers what they were, plus just two tickets to the first Rockies game; his parents had to negotiate to get enough passes for the whole family. As a bonus, the Rutt clan was allowed to watch a Channel 9 newscast, after which "they dragged me out on stage with Ed Sardella and Carl Akers and Stormy Rottman and Bob Kurtz. That gave me the bug to go into the television job I have today: making fun of the news."

He's not kidding. The New York-based Rutt works in a promotional capacity for The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

Ultimately, the Colorado Rockies of the NHL went the way of all flesh, freeing up the name for Denver's baseball team -- Rutt's secret legacy. The Colorado Crush may not last, either: A previous local arena lineup, the Denver Dynamite, croaked over a decade ago, and the new league is pinning a lot of its hopes on a TV contract with NBC -- a deal similar to one the network had with the XFL, which lasted all of one season.

But Maciszewski is so optimistic that even the Rocky article doesn't bother him. "NBC did some studies, and they discovered that 30 percent of America is aware of the Arena Football League," he says. "I'd hope some of this news has bumped it over 30 percent."

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