Will Endorsements Catch Up With AP’s MVP Status?

August 16, 2013
Photo: Minnesota Vikings

Photo: Minnesota Vikings

With the Vikings’ regular season approaching, it seems only fitting that we turn our focus to Adrian Peterson. Heck, opposing defenses sure will.

But I don’t want to spend an entire blog post looking at No. 28’s prowess on the field. I want to look at something that hasn’t been quite as impressive: His portfolio of sponsorships and endorsements.

Peterson is currently the highest-paid running back in the NFL. In September 2011, the Vikings awarded him with a seven-year deal worth a maximum of $100 million. Forbes lists his salary and earnings at $20.5 million, which put him at #53 on their list of highest-paid athletes in 2012.

Think about that for a second. He is the highest-paid running back in the NFL, but he can’t even crack the top 50 of the highest-paid athletes. What’s going on here? If you look over one column on Forbes’ list, you see that Peterson has a mere $1 million in endorsements. Now that may seem like a good chunk of change to most people, but Adrian Peterson is not most people.

In fact, that $1 million looks a little sad when you compare it to Peyton Manning’s $12 million in endorsements. But this $1 million was Peterson’s endorsement haul before he was named the NFL MVP, so it’s likely that he’s been making deals off the field this off-season with a number of different brands.

This isn’t to say Peterson was without sponsors before last season though. He has played a huge role for Nike for a number of years, and Verizon Wireless is another sponsor.

But you have to wonder why he hasn’t raked in more endorsement cash in previous seasons. He has been one of the best players in the league for a few years now, he seems like a genuinely nice guy, and I think we can all agree that he’s not bad to look at. Most importantly, he hasn’t created a huge PR fiasco or done anything to embarrass himself.

Photo: Minnesota Vikings

Photo: Minnesota Vikings

So what can his agents do to get him more endorsements now that there is an even greater spotlight on him? If you look at other NFL players with more endorsement money, one thing sticks out: They’re absolutely hilarious in commercials!

Now I’m not saying Adrian has to start hitting up open mic nights at Acme Comedy Co. He just needs his agents to align him with brands that can have a little fun with their marketing.

Just think of the commercials starring Aaron Rodgers, Peyton and Eli Manning, Ray Lewis, or Troy Polamalu. Whether it is Peyton and Eli rapping about DirecTV or Rodgers doing the discount-double-check, these ads work due to their humor. And I don’t think anyone can say they imagined Eli Manning as a comedic genius when he entered the league as a rookie.

Some of you may be thinking, “Adrian doesn’t have more endorsements because Minnesota is still a small market team. And the Vikings aren’t even a winning team.”

In response to that, I point to Minnesota’s other superstar athlete, Joe Mauer. Same small market, but Joe makes more than double what Adrian does in endorsements. Sure, Joe is the hometown boy, but I’d argue that Adrian is more marketable nationwide, now more than ever. And in regards to the winning team argument… well I don’t think we need to point out how the Twins have been doing the past few years.

But things could be changing for Peterson in the near future. Earlier this summer, he announced he would be sponsoring EpiPen and Castrol Edge. This week, Wheaties announced that Adrian will be appearing on the box of “The Breakfast of Champions” and the cereal brand is featuring a “Team Adrian” page on its website.

It looks like Adrian’s endorsement portfolio is finally starting to catch up to his MVP status. As he said after announcing the EpiPen deal, “You will see me more. Stay tuned.” After his amazing comeback season last year, one has to feel that it’s about time.

To conclude, there is one other thing that could help Adrian reel in more endorsement deals than the MVP award ever could, but this one could be a bit more difficult than developing a sense of humor.

I’ll give you a hint: Every player I listed above has a certain, special ring that they only give to players who win a certain, special game.

Yeah, that one could be tough.