In my previous article, we discussed the importance of endorsement deals for NFL Players. We also mentioned a sure fact way of enhancing ones chances of landing those deals through the correct use of social media platforms. However some NFL Players are both unaware and unwilling to believe social media can have a direct impact on whether or not they are chosen for certain endorsement opportunities. Thus, we will dig a little deeper and explain why social media is so important.
This past year we saw some of the greatest legends in sports retire. Names like Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, Tim Duncan, Steve Weatherford and Marshawn Lynch are no longer playing their perspective sports. They all retired. And we know in many people's minds they are set for life and will not have to work another minute for the rest of their lives. This may be true if of course they changed their lifestyles significantly to live by lesser means. However, the money they have in the bank alone over the years will subtract with every bill payment, with every mortgage, with every trip taken, every car bought, and whatever other expenses they have. Which means they more than likely will need a significant amount of income to continue to live the life of luxury they have became accustomed to.
These guys as well as others who have retired or have had to stop playing their professional sport may be old in the terms of being an athlete, but they are not necessarily old human beings. They still have 40 plus years to live and provide for themselves and their families. Therefore just because they retired from being an athlete does not mean they can retire from work or making money. This is where all those big time endorsement deals these guys signed during their years of relevance comes into play.
The Nike deal Kobe has had for years will continue to benefit him, we will still see Peyton Manning in the Papa John’s commercials, and Marshawn Lynch who launched and endorsed his own brand of "Beast Mode" will continue to revive dividends off of that. That is the game gentlemen, use your image and your influence in a positive way and gain as many followers on social media and endorsements off the field as you can while you can.
Whether an NFL player enjoys a one-year career or a 16 year career, it is a short span compared to other career choices of work. According to many studies, most players are not prepared for the feast-to-famine transition when they retire or their teams release them, and it is worse for those who play the longest if they grow accustomed to earning significant incomes. The average NFL player made $860,000 per year in 2015. Players like Drew Brees ($23.8 million) and Philip Rivers ($21.2 million) make a lot more. The minimum NFL salary is $435,000 per year. A lot of money right? However, not all of them save and prepare for a time in the near future when they will not be enjoying that kind of income. A 2009 Sports Illustrated study indicated that 78 percent of NFL players go bankrupt or suffer financial hardship within two years of leaving the game.
You hear it all the time, "How did he blow all of that money he had?" To be honest it's kind of easy to blow through those big contracts while still playing in the NFL let alone after you're done playing. NFL players don’t waste any time spending money. In fact from Day 1 of signing that NFL contract, these guys are now in a different tax bracket, and Uncle Sam is going to take a huge chunk of that money. How many guys who grew up poor or with less than most quickly turn into big spenders? After taxes, there is the agent waiting on his percentage of the pie (usually 3%). Let's not forget about the key to the success story, ma dukes (mom) who paved the way with her sacrifices and love. This is why most NFL players even want to make it, to take care of their mom. So the new house and car for her are another big expense that you are paying for. Next, it's you! I made it this far so it's only right I splurge a little bit right? New car, new jewelry, new house, even a new crowd of friends. This is probably the most expensive of the bunch. And last but not least the team who got you there, the uncles, coaches, childhood friends, girlfriends or baby mamas. Every one of them will have their hands out taking from you like a leach. How much money is the average NFL Player really left with?
As a result of these circumstances, this is where those endorsement deals are necessary. We know where your NFL contract money is going, so it's obvious that you need more streams of income. Endorsement deals typically pay you more money than any NFL contract you will ever sign. Because that endorsement deal can be a significant size of passive income that you can keep long after your playing years are over. This is where guys like Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Chris Paul and others were smarter than most. These guys secured big time endorsement deals and milked those opportunities and built relationships that will get them paid for a lifetime. Now it's time for you other guys to wise up and catch the wave to secure your futures.
Now I know everyone isn't Lebron James, Marshawn lynch, or Kobe Bryant. But you can be! This is where social media comes into play. You all have noticed how so many up and coming actors or comedians have used their social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat and Twitter to showcase their skills and build an audience. What's stopping you from doing the same?
Steve Weatherford aka Weatherford5 is a great example of effective use of social media. The 10 year NFL Veteran was a punter for the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, NY Jets, and the NY Giants where he won Super Bowl XLVI. Yet we all know punters traditionally are not the most glorified players in the league. However Weatherford’s mindset and approach was to do “whatever it takes” to build an authentic and highly engaged following by grinding it out on social media. As a result Weatherford now has over a million social media followers across all his social media platforms and numerous endorsement deals from brands in his post NFL career. He has graced the covers of almost every Fitness Magazine and is regularly featured on ESPN, FOX, NBC, and ABC as well as radio stations across the country.
Your football career won't last forever gentlemen, and eventually your playing days will be over. What are you going to have in place once that happens? Will you still be relevant like Steve Weatherford? Will people still be interested in you? You can decide that right now and begin to build your brand and image through social media which is the doorway between you not having an endorsement deal or you having multiple endorsement deals.
LaDarius Owens played defensive end for the Auburn Tigers from 2010-2014, where he helped lead them to two SEC Championships and two National Championship appearances, winning the 2011 BCS National Championship against the Oregon Ducks. After earning his Master’s Degree in Education from Auburn, he briefly played for both the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL and Ottawa RedBlacks in the CFL. He’s currently the Director of NFL Relations for Chasepedia, a digital marketing firm which specializes in providing social media solutions for Professional Athletes, Celebrities, and Brands, and a contributing writer to AuburnTigers.com.
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