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Volume 20 No. 45
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Forty Under 40

More than a decade ago, eight NFL owners also owned Arena Football League teams. Nowadays, there’s little connecting the top indoor and outdoor football circuits. Renie Anderson may be the last link.

On her first day as assistant to former AFL Commissioner David Baker in 1998, Anderson was handed a list of three tasks: balance the commissioner’s checkbook, pick up his dry cleaning — and call NFL owners in an attempt to sell them AFL franchises. She clearly proved herself adept at sales and now is a vice president of sales at the NFL.

While Anderson went to college aiming to be a writer or journalist, “I’m still doing a lot of storytelling,” she said, “but there’s a rhythm to sales that I love. I love the pitch; I love getting everyone in sync internally. Negotiating the deal and the contract can be very tough, but once the ink is dry, it’s the most fulfilling thing.”

Having helped bring in big brands like Bridgestone, P&G’s roster of health and beauty aids, SAP, Lenovo, McDonald’s, and Papa John’s, Anderson is now walking the fine line of in-game integration, which many potential sponsors are asking for, while calls come from purists about preserving the game’s integrity.

In the meantime, Anderson is helping to augment the league’s sponsorship asset base, with things like the “NFL Honors” TV awards show on Super Bowl eve and an expanded basket of offerings on the NFL calendar around events like the NFL draft and combine. That’s pretty heady stuff for a girl who grew up on a Kentucky farm.

“Renie really tore it up on sales right away, because her belief in our product was just infectious,” said Baker, now working on a health care project in California. “I’m as proud of her as if she were one of my own, and in a way, I guess she is.”

— Terry Lefton

Age: 38    
Title: Vice president, business development, sponsorship and media sales
Education: B.A., journalism, Ole Miss
Family: Husband, Chris; daughters Callie (5) and Kate (4)
Career: Variety of positions, culminating in sales director, at Arena Football League, 1998-2006; NFL: manager, business development, 2006; director, business development, 2007; vice president, business development, 2011

FIRST JOB: Camp counselor in Branson, Mo.
How do you strike a work-life balance? We have organized chaos, but the fact that my husband (Chris McCloskey) also works in sports helps a lot because we both know and respect the demands of this business.

BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: “No job is too small,” from former AFL Commissioner David Baker
Worst advice received: “Keep your opinions to yourself.”
Favorite iPad apps: Houzz, a home decorating app
Farthest traveled from U.S.: Switzerland
Stress release: Swimming and reading
Pet peeve: When people tell jokes about my home state of Kentucky
Guilty pleasure: “90210,” the original
Favorite movie line: “Our pets’ heads are falling off.” (“Dumb and Dumber”)