Steelers Players See Huge Drop In Royalty Earnings in '09, '10
The NFLPA's Department of Labor filings for '09 and '10 "show payments pegged to jersey, memorabilia, video games, football cards and other licensed products plummeted last season for some of the Steelers' best-known players," according to a front-page piece by Carl Prine of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Steelers S Troy Polamalu, QB Ben Roethlisberger, LB James Harrison, and WR Hines Ward saw "some of the sharpest cuts." Of the 11 Steelers "given royalty checks in both years, only tight end Heath Miller and running back Rashard Mendenhall showed royalty gains." However, that was "before Mendenhall posted controversial Twitter messages in May" that led Champion Sports Apparel to end his endorsement deal. NFLPA Dir of Communications Carl Francis said that the decline in royalties "partly stemmed from a sluggish economy." Union filings show Polamalu in '09 received "more than $1 million in royalty earnings from NFL-licensed goods," but his royalties "fell to $139,577" in '10. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger's NFL royalties "toppled more than 70 percent to $153,759 last year," after he was "dogged by two unproven rape accusations and a four-game suspension." That number left him tied with Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman for the "biggest percentage drop ... among the 14 NFL starting quarterbacks with royalties in each of the last two years." Still, Roethlisberger's union royalty earnings in '10 "remained the highest on the team." NFL agent Adisa Bakari and The Marketing Arm Account Dir Darin David "remain split on former Super Bowl MVP Ward's future as a top pitchman." Ward is "coming off a victory on ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars' -- and a drunken-driving arrest on July 9 in Georgia." L.A.-based branding expert Rob Frankel said that the Ward dilemma "is why he tells his clients 'to avoid celebrity endorsements at all costs'" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/29).
NO BEATING AROUND THE BUSH: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis writes since revelations came out that newly acquired Dolphins RB Reggie Bush received illegal benefits while in college at USC that forced him to vacate the '05 Heisman Trophy, Bush's Davie Brown Index score dropped in several key categories. Bush in '07 was rated "as popular as Angelina Jolie and as trusted as Pat Riley." However, his endorsement score "has fallen into the neighborhood of Jackass star Johnny Knoxville and Snoop Dogg," and his consumer appeal "now ranks about 2,500 out of 2,800 celebrities, comparable to Brett Favre and John Daly." David said, "It's kind of a drastic decline in those areas. He hasn't had as much damage done as some athletes, but it's been enough to cause brands to pause when they consider him." Meanwhile, Bush's awareness rating, which was "driven by notoriety attached to the USC scandal" as well as his highly publicized relationship with Kim Kardashian, "has soared until he is about as well known as Jerry Rice, George Strait and Deion Sanders" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/29).