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Original Issue

How Much Is an Arm and a Leg?

High-profile athletes now license their faces, so why don't they rent out other body parts?

There is one person in the world I would gladly sponge bathe a diseased yak to avoid seeing, and, unfortunately, at this moment he's walking through my office door: Dalton.

Dalton, who works down the hall from me, has more ideas than 3M. Most of them stink. All of them he shares with me.

I immediately hide under my desk.

"This Mario Lemieux thing!" Dalton says, pulling me out. "Unbelievable! Did you see it? Lemieux sold the Pittsburgh Penguins exclusive rights to his face! Says they can do anything with it they want! Imagine! They own this man's face. The papers say the rights are worth $10 million!"

"Fascinating," I say, "but right now I'm a little...."

"Don't you see! It's brilliant!" he says. "Why, this changes sports marketing entirely!"

I look at my watch. "I'd love to chat," I say, "but...."

"If Lemieux can sell the rights to his face for $10 million," Dalton says, "how much can other players get for their body parts? I'm serious! I'll bet Michael Jordan could get that just for his tongue!"

I mention that today is perhaps not the best time to....

"Or how about Charles Barkley's head? Do you know how much GE would pay to put its corporate logo on that? Or what Northwest Airlines would cough up to feature Kirby Puckett's big ol' gluteus maximus in an ad? 'If one of our coach scats is big enough to handle Kirby, we're big enough to handle you.' "

"You know," I say, "my tires need rotating, and I'm late for my Rolfing...."

"Think of what you could do with hair alone! Jimmy Johnson's, for instance! Can't you see it? A picture of Jimmy Johnson's hair next to a tube of Super Glue. And the ad would say, 'O.K., so a few things in life do hold as well as Super Glue.' Or Chris Mullin's hair in an armed forces ad: 'Join the Marines. Even we don't make you cut it this short.' "

I try to pick up my phone, but Dalton has the other end of the line in his hand.

"O.K., O.K., how about Jack Morris's mustache? I can see the ad now: 'Jack Morris and his mustache have one thing in common. They're both easily waxed. Pinaud's mustache wax.' Or maybe Eveready could buy the rights to Dan Dierdorf's mouth! 'Stilllllll going!' You like?"

Beads of sweat begin to appear on the bridge of my nose.

"Feet! Feet alone could make you millions! Will Perdue, the guy with the size 21s who plays for the Bulls? Can't you see him working for Kelly temporary services? 'When you've got some big shoes to fill, call Kelly.' Wait! What could be better than Victor Kiam, that bonehead who used to own the Patriots, selling his feet to Odor-Eaters? Odor-Eaters could show Kiam getting up at a banquet to speak, and then the announcer would say something like 'When you put your foot in your mouth as often as Victor Kiam does, you've got to have Odor-Eaters." Sensational?"

I check the windows for a possible escape, but Dalton has snapped off the handles. He is now addressing me from the top of my desk.

"I mean, you wouldn't have to stop at body parts, either! You could do anything! How about Larry Brown's luggage? Samsonite could say something like 'No coach hits the road more often than Larry Brown. We gave him our luggage three seasons ago. And it still looks like new!' And just think of the possibilities for ESPN announcer Chris Berman! The state of Montana could use him in its tourism promotions: 'Montana. Nearly as large as this man's forehead!' Or how about John McEnroe's armpits doing a deodorant bit? 'If you're the pits of the world, try Right Guard.' "

I'm desperate. I run for the door, but Dalton is too quick. He blocks me.

"How about Art Monk's hands? Charmin would love the rights! Something like 'There are only two things in the world softer than Charmin.' Or Bill Laimbeer's elbows doing a little spot for Adolph's meat tenderizer? And, oh my god, all you'd have to do is paint THIS SPACE AVAILABLE on Refrigerator Perry's stomach, and you'd have to install extra telephone lines!"

I know there's only one thing that's going to get me out of this. I begin to feign my own death.

"Can't you see Leonard Nimoy buying up the rights to 'In Search of...Herschel Walker's Neck'? Or Johnson & Johnson dental floss acquiring the rights to John Elway's teeth? 'Buy it in the 3,000-yard size!' "

Using an Indian death mantra, I have nearly stopped my pulse, but it's no use. He puts a mirror to my nose to prove I'm breathing.

"Come to think of it," Dalton says, "your schnoz ain't exactly petite. Disney could buy the rights to it. You know, Pinocchio: The Sequel. I'm telling you. We could take this idea straight to the bank!"

I'm a beaten man. I know Dalton isn't going to stop until I give in. I let loose a deep sigh.

"Right," I say. "And think of what they could do with those giant cars of yours! Maybe you could advertise for a sonar manufacturer! Or maybe a ham-radio company! 'If you can't pickup Beijing on you ears, try mine!' "

Dalton's face falls like a sack of flour. He turns abruptly to leave, stopping only long enough to put me in my place. "Boy," he says, "some people have no sense of marketing."