Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck hasn’t been as high profile in the sponsorship arena as Robert Griffin III, the man taken right behind him at No. 2 in this year’s draft.
But that could change. As he piles up statistics like no other rookie before him, sports marketers say interest in the Stanford graduate is escalating dramatically.
For his part, Luck is not concerned with comparisons to Griffin, who’s already signed multi-million-dollar deals with companies like Subway and Gatorade.
“I figured with the situation I was in, sort of wait around and hopefully prove myself on this level a little and maybe go with the a-little-less-is-more mentality,” Luck told IBJ recently.
Before his neck injury, Luck's predecessor as Colts QB, Peyton Manning was making about $15 million annually on endorsement deals.
After a year largely on commercial hiatus in 2011, Manning seems to be back to his prime earning power. Sports marketers think Luck has the chance to equal Manning’s commercial output in the coming years.
Last week’s announcement that Luck signed his first significant local corporate deal—with Riley Hospital for Children—could be a sign that he and his agency are ready to get down to business off the field. That deal is for a minimum of four years, and though he declined to discuss the structure of the deal, it’s one that Luck said he’ll be paid for.
There’s no hurry to be the league’s leading endorser, he said.
“I wanted to make sure to do the research and figure out where the opportunities are,” he said. “I felt the opportunity [with Riley] was right and to get the program launched at the beginning of next year, I figured you have to get the program rolling this year and start collaborating this year.”
Now that he better understands the routine of a professional quarterback, Luck said he can allot some time to commercial deals.
Clearly Luck is still finding his way—if not on the field, then certainly off the field. He added that he’s “absolutely” interested in signing other corporate deals in coming months.
So what kind of companies would Luck like to partner with? He said he’s leaving most of that to his uncle and agent, Will Wilson, in order to allow him to focus on football during the season.
Still, Luck certainly has his ideas about what companies and products would make a good fit for him to pitch.
“Things with common values that I have; healthy activities, encouraging kids to get out and eat right, stay active. Having gone to school in Silicon Valley, I’m interested in technology companies and other things out there.”
Luck said community service in his adopted hometown and a strong sense of connection here are just as important as cashing in. During the upcoming off season, Luck is expected to launch his foundation.
“I’m in a position in this city and this state to get a message across,” he said. “If I can bring some attention to this healthy initiative, that will be a good thing.”