For this week’s Monday Matchup, opendorse has analyzed the marketing production of this week’s Monday Night Football stars – Joe Flacco and Larry Fitzgerald.
Is Joe Flacco elite? That has been the question over the past few years, but the signal caller has certainly accomplished enough to garner the attention. Hailing from New Jersey, Flacco initially attended the University of Pittsburgh before transferring to the University of Delaware, an FCS school. Prior to his senior season and convinced he would not have a career in the NFL, Flacco considered trading in his shoulder pads for a bat and ball. Although, after speaking with his coach, who predicted a NFL career for Flacco, the future Super Bowl champ stuck with it and was selected 18th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. The selection made him the only FCS player to be drafted in the first round since Steve McNair in 1995. Since joining the Ravens, Flacco has started every game of his eight year career and led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2012.
During his rookie season, Reebok approached the young quarterback and offered him a three-year contract. Flacco accepted, making Reebok his first major endorsement deal. Pizza Hut also came calling and their partnership created the “Flacco Favorites.” Although he was receiving decent marketing deals, Flacco wasn’t garnering the attention that others quarterbacks around the league were seeing until 2012. After leading his Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory, Flacco became a coveted influencer. During the off-season, Flacco switched from Reebok to Nike, became a spokesman for McDonald’s, Pepsi, Tostito’s, and gummy candy producer, Haribo.
The conversation of “is Joe Flacco Elite?” may continue for the duration of his career, but based on his endorsement roster, Flacco is still a few major deals away from earning “elite quarterback” status.
Following his sophomore season at the University of Pittsburgh, Larry Fitzgerald was considered the top receiver in the country. He was the recipient of the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the best pass-catcher in college football, as well as the Walter Camp Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best overall player. Fitzgerald was also a unanimous selection for All-American and was the runner-up for the 2003 Heisman Trophy.
Though he only played two years in college, Fitzgerald petitioned the NFL to allow him to enter the draft early due to his enrollment in military school following his high school graduation. The petition worked. Fitzgerald entered the 2004 draft and was selected 3rd overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Fitzgerald was named to his first Pro Bowl following his second NFL season and would add seven more in the next ten years. In 2013, at the age of 30, the former Pitt Panther became the youngest player to reach 11,000 receiving yards, surpassing Randy Moss.
This pass catching machine has also been able to catch endorsements left and right. The Cardinals phenom has deals with blue-chip brands including Nike, Bose, Verizon, and Gillette. Fitzgerald’s first major endorsement deal came from EA Sports in 2004 when he was selected as the cover athlete for the NCAA Football 05 video game. Last year, Fitzgerald teamed up with Visa to help show the world how easy it is to pay online while having footballs thrown at him by some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Recently, the Cardinals receiver partnered with the University of Phoenix to promote higher learning while he finishes his own college degree.
Fitzgerald is also very active in the community and charity work. He established the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund, which provides fun and positive activities for children in the summer. He also created the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund in honor of his mother who passed away during her battle with breast cancer in 2003. For the past few off-seasons, Fitzgerald has joined fellow NFL players on mission trips overseas to aid in economic development.
Fitzgerald appears to be nearing the end of his career, but there may be a few more seasons left in the NFL veteran. To see his endorsements increase this late in his career, Fitzgerald may have to consider leaving the team he has played for his entire career, a very unlikely scenario considering the Cardinals’ recent success.