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Iconix Using Romo To Resurrect Starter

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo
AP
Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo

Tony Romo is one of the most marketable players in the NFL. But he doesn’t have a shoe and apparel deal with Adidas, Reebok or Nike .

Last year, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback signed one of the league’s most lucrative deals to represent Starter, which hasn’t had any official designation with the NFL since the Starter Corporation filed for bankruptcy 10 years ago.

Since then, the brand -- which was founded in 1971 -- has been tossed around. It was purchased by Nike for a reported $43 million in August 2004. Three years later, Nike sold it to Iconix, a company whose brands include Joe Boxer, Danskin and Candie’s, for $60 million.

Iconix, whose shares are up 58 percent year-to-date, relaunched the brand in January and is now hoping Romo can help bring the brand back to its heyday, a time Romo fondly remembers.

“I remember when we were growing up Starter was real big,” Romo told us. “We’d love those pullover jackets. Now that they’re starting to get back into the game, I’m glad I’m a part of what they want to do. It’s exciting to me that it’s not the traditional deal that everyone else has.”

Tony Romo
Tony Romo

Without being able to use any Cowboys logos, Iconix is selling plenty of blue and white and is using Romo in its advertising and on point of purchase materials to get attention. One of the reasons why a generic Romo can still work well is because Starter has a direct-to-retail license agreement with Wal-Mart . So Romo stands out in the stores even if he's called "Dallas QB."

Romo also says the value price point appeals to him.

"When I was growing up, my family shopped at Wal-Mart," Romo said. "I wasn't buying a pair of Air Jordans every year."

Starter has made on-field shoes for Romo, even though he's not allowed to show the Starter star logo. But that doesn't mean all is lost. Romo says he wears Starter products off the field.

Why does that matter?

Because, as Romo knows, when you're dating Jessica Simpson, candid photos of you appear in magazines routinely. That's a value added that Starter couldn't have found with any other sports figure in the world.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com