Harrison can catch, but won't pitch

August 22, 2008
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harrisonMarvin Harrison is a football superstar, but he sure isn’t a commercial superstar. Harrison had a deal with Degree antiperspirant in the late 1990s and another with the Got Milk campaign following the Colts Super Bowl victory in 2007, but little else.

Despite Harrison’s pairing with Peyton Manning as part of one of the National Football League’s most potent offensive combinations, nothing much has stuck.

Given his recent interview with the Indianapolis Star and the comments from Indianapolis Colts fans that article generated, his act might be wearing a bit thin on the team’s supporters.

Sports marketers seem divided on Harrison’s unwillingness to give coherent responses to local reporters’ questions or to make himself available to the team’s fans. “He doesn’t want to have any representation within this community outside the No. 88 on the football field,” said David Morton, president of locally based Sunrise Sports Group. “That’s his prerogative.” In a short 2003 interview with Sports Illustrated, Harrison said, “I’m not into talking because that never won any football games.”

Sports marketers agree that Harrison’s silent act has killed most commercial opportunities he might have to make money off the football field. Well, unless you count his bar and car wash in Philadelphia. “Marvin Harrison never had any intent to maximize his commercial viability,” Morton said.

His handlers at the powerful sports marketing agency, IMG, certainly had that intent. They predicted shortly after Manning exploded onto the scene, that the duo—which IMG both represented—would make piles of cash in off-the-field endorsements. Harrison never made much use of his associations with IMG—or Manning—in the commercial realm.

Morton gives Harrison credit for staying true to himself. “He shouldn’t be pushed to be something he’s not,” Morton said. “A player can build himself into a brand, but it has to be true to who he is. To falsify a brand makes it worse for the fans.”
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  • His act might be wearing thin...?

    It's not an act. That's why I like Marvin. He's true to himself, as Morton says.
  • Leave Marvin Harrison alone to be the solitary, publicity-shy person he obviously is. He owes Colts fans, his team mates and his employer nothing more than the outstanding play he's delivered in every game.

    Just because a person is a hall fame sports performer doesn't mean he or she has to be a world class marketing figure. Marvin Harrison's ongoing silence off the field leaves his sterling performance on the field as his only legacy. Considering he'll surely be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame, that's not a bad legacy to have.
  • Marvin could always do a commercial for Don's Gun's, he obviously knows how to handle one.
  • With Marvin, it's tough to tell what real and what's an act. Whatever the case, a little professionalism on his part is called for when dealing with fans and the media. A little nod to the people--the fans--who make his profession possible wouldn't hurt either. Marvin's right, though, talking never won football games. Luckily for us fans, a lot of people (athletes among them) have realized there's more to life than winning games.
  • I think you all have blinders on. You are supporting a player who does not care about anything but himself. He obviously doesn't care about the fans. And how can you be so sure he cares about winning football games? He is the NFL's Barry Bonds.
  • eFan, no blinders here. Your Barry Bonds comparison is way out of line as the steroid taking Bonds was reviled by his team mates, other MBL players and went out of his way to be rude to the press and fans. Marvin Harrison is a respected professional by his team mates, management and other NFL players. Where does it say a professional athlete owes fans anything more than his field performance? As for the incident in Philadelphia, Harrison was never charged with anything. Case closed. No comment necessary.
  • steve - Comment Necessary: How do you know that he is respected by his teammates, management and other NFL players? I would certainly like to see some proof of that. And, just because he was never charged with anything doesn't mean he wasn't a part of it. As for the Barry Bonds comparison, I am not even talking about steroids, I am just talking about his personality.
  • eFan, YES, I do know Marvin is very respected by his team mates via comments made by players like Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Jeff Saturday throughout his playing career. The man's an all-time Hall of Fame player.

    Can you recall a negative comment by any Colts player or executive detrimental to Marvin's performance? I surely cannot.

    As for Barry Bonds, he went out of his way to be rude, profane and insultive with both the press, the fans and his team mates. Yes, there are many of them who spoke out on what a jerk BB was/is.

    There's no way to compare Barry Bonds egotistical jerk act with Marvin's under the radar shyness.

    Your sentence....just because he was never charged with anything doesn't mean he wasn't a part of it...is laughable. Guilt by association or press innuendo means nothing - unless you're watching Inside Edition.

    Let's leave it at this. You choose to negatively judge Marvin Harrison by what he doesn't say and doesn't do. I choose to sit back and enjoy his performance on the field. You know, where games are won?

    What Marvin Harrison (and any other pro athlete) does off the field is no concern of mine. He owes me nothing more than 100% effort in the game.

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