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Sports Business

RGIII not playing No. 2 to Luck in sponsor deals, fan appeal

June 8, 2012
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It’s impossible at this point to say which of the first two picks in this year’s NFL draft will wind up being the best quarterback.

But right now, No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III appears to be a hotter commodity with sponsors, fans and sports card traders than No. 1 pick Andrew Luck.

Griffin already has signed major sponsorship deals with Adidas, Subway sandwich shops, EA Sports, Castrol Motor Oil and football safety gear maker EvoShield.

Luck meanwhile, has signed deals with Nike and Pepsi, for which he’ll do ads for Gatorade and Quaker Oats.

So far, Luck has been focused on graduating from Stanford, which he finally did this week, and learning the Indianapolis Colts playbook. He’s on record as saying he wants to “earn” accolades and sponsorship deals with his play rather than just for being the No. 1 pick.

Luck’s handlers at Wasserman Media Group have promised that things will pick up for Luck post-graduation and as the season nears. Not only is Luck likely to pick up additional sponsors, he’s also likely to partner with a not-for-profit cause or two as the season approaches, Wasserman officials said.

Local sports marketer David Morton doesn’t think Griffin’s early lead in sponsorship deals is an indication that he’s more marketable than Luck.

“They’re two different athletes in two different markets,” said Morton, president of Sunrise Sports Group.

While Morton said there’s some advantage to getting sponsorship deals done before the NFL season and making announcements before the media shifts its attention to the Summer Olympics, he doesn’t think Luck is more poorly positioned than Griffin at this point.

“Andrew Luck is going to get a lot of requests and a lot of offers this year,” Morton said. “He needs to be selective and learn to say ‘no.’ A lot of athletes have worn out their welcome by becoming a pitchman just because they’re a high draft choice. [Luck] needs to be very strategic, deliberate and cautious in his approach, and I think that’s what you’re seeing.”

But there’s no doubt there’s intrigue in Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and Washington Redskins selection. His unique skills and personality seem to have captured the attention of football fans nationwide.

In a new release of 2012 Bowman Football Cards this week, Griffin’s cards were snatched up at higher prices than Luck’s.

The highest price fetched by any card in the opening hours of the sale was an autographed limited edition of Griffin’s card that went for $1,000. The second-highest-priced card at $650 was a dual autographed card featuring Griffin and Luck.

The top price paid for a limited edition Luck autographed card was $540, with most of his cards going in the $250 range.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with how the two will do on the field this season. And that will likely be the biggest determining factor in who is the most popular among fans and the most coveted among sponsors in the long haul.

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