Athletes First branches into off-field work for NFL clients
Athletes First has expanded its marketing division, bringing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson’s endorsement work in-house and signing deals with major brands for other NFL clients, including Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles, Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, Giants receiver Sterling Shepard and Chargers safety Derwin James.
All told, Athletes First marketing agents have negotiated more than 700 paid endorsement deals so far in 2019, said Austin Lyman, A1 vice president of marketing. That’s more than the 698 paid endorsement deals that A1 negotiated for clients all of last year.
“The majority of marketing services are rendered before the season, but the majority of the actual appearances take place in season, because that is when football is most relevant and that’s when most brands do want to activate,” Lyman said.
Lyman heads up A1’s marketing division, which employs 14, including Bryan Burney, a marketing executive who joined the firm earlier this year after working at ESPN, Roc Nation and most recently, Excel Sports Management.
Watson has been represented on the field by NFL agent and A1 partner David Mulugheta his entire career and had been represented off the field by Excel. Additionally, A1 recently signed Texans wide receiver Will Fuller, who was represented off the field by CAA Sports. He will continue to be represented on the field by CAA.
Some of the notable recent national deals that A1 has negotiated include Foles’ partnership with Lululemon, a deal with Lockett and Pizza Hut and a deal with James and Oakley. Additionally, A1 negotiated a deal for Shepard and his wife, model Chanel Iman Shepard, with Levi’s and Amazon.
A1 also negotiated a yet-to-be-announced deal for Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. That campaign is expected to be unveiled in a few weeks.
■ LAGARDÈRE SIGNS SALINDA: Lagardère Sports has signed Isaiah Salinda, a member of both Stanford’s 2019 NCAA championship golf team and the 2019 U.S. Walker Cup team. Jeff Koski, vice president of golf, and Tommy Riehle, player manager, will represent Salinda.
■ GSE WORLDWIDE SIGNS FERNANDEZ: GSE Worldwide has signed Leylah Annie Fernandez, a 16-year-old Canadian who is the world No. 1-ranked junior female tennis player. Agent John Tobias is representing her.
■ UTA SIGNS SPORTS BETTING ANALYST: United Talent Agency has signed Preston Johnson, a sports betting analyst on the ESPN show “Daily Wager.” Agents Ryan Hayden and Jerry Silbowitz are representing him.