Friday Sports Biz Round-up
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
Bonds Endorsing Conte?
So yesterday, I read that Victor Conte, the mastermind of BALCO, is back with a new company -- this time selling legal supplements. Conte, of course, went to jail for four months for his part in BALCO, but many of his customers, including the future home run champ Barry Bonds, are still being eyed by the Feds.
So you can imagine my shock when I go to Conte's new Web site and see Bonds and his trainer Greg Anderson on the front page as if they are endorsing his new company. Both are wearing ZMA hats, which stand for Conte's popular zinc magnesium supplement.
I spoke with Bonds' marketing agent Jeff Bernstein, who told me that Bonds could soon be pulled off the front of the site. "Victor Conte is not a party to any active deals that Barry currently has," Bernstein said. "We just found out about this. I'll be talking with his enforcement people to see what the next steps will be."
Even if it was for legit supplements, I don't think the athletes listed in the "athletes" section on Conte's new Web site are too pleased that they are being associated as customers: Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl, Dan Marino and Terrell Davis, among others.
Just Quinn, Baby!
Brady Quinn is hands down the most marketable guy in this weekend's NFL Draft. He passes
almost all tests. People already know him from his college career. He has a huge built in fan base with Notre Dame backers. He's a great talker and he's got those All-American model looks. He already has deals with Nike, EAS, Subway, Hummer, Sprint and Xbox.
Almost everyone has him going No. 3 to Cleveland, which his marketer Howard Skull told me would be ideal because he grew up in Ohio. There's one major issue with the Browns, however. One insider told me that Romeo Crennel is very much a team guy and comes close to discouraging guys to do too much off-the-field activity. Nonetheless, Braylon Edwards was featured on Pepsi cans and on Nike billboards around town.
I'm not really sold on anyone else really. They all have to prove themselves in their own markets. No one has really stood out from a personality standpoint -- other than maybe Gaines Adams, who I can tell is really a guy who loves to laugh. Whoever goes to the Raiders -- let's say it's Jamarcus Russell -- will get a nice jump on jersey sales, as the Raiders fans really need someone to buy.
Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who is expected to go in the top five tomorrow, turned down the NFL's invitation to be live at the draft. Instead, he has chosen to go fishing with his father and football coach. But have no fear; Corporate America will have a part in the festivities. When the NFL Network cuts to Thomas, he'll be wearing hunting and fishing gear provided to him by Under Armour, who has signed him to an endorsement deal.
NFL Network Needs Draft Exclusively
Let's go through everything the NFL Network has done to try to get some cable carriers to take them on. They've hired big talent in Rich Eisen. They let about $400 million on the table to broadcast six regular season football games a year and they've made the combine a television event. The problem is that it's still not enough to convince the cable carriers that this needs to be carried on their regular packages.
The draft, on an exclusive basis, would be a nice get for the NFL Network, but that's not even on the radar. While they currently broadcast alongside ESPN for the draft -- trust me, most of you are watching the latter -- the way I understand it is ESPN has the rights to the NFL Draft through 2013 as part of the Monday Night Football package for which the network agreed to pay the league $1.1 billion a year.
Where Did Those Chicago Bears Super Bowl Champion T-Shirts Go?
I always wanted to follow the losing Super Bowl t-shirts to Africa. The NFL doesn't want the shirts destroyed, but they obviously can't be sold in this country. This year, thousands of Chicago Bears Super Bowl XLI champs shirts and hats went to Zambia. A total of $2 million worth of goods was donated by Dick's Sporting Goods, Reebok and The Sports Authority. Click below to watch the story.