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Tebow, Brady Have Taken On Tough Endorsement Challenges

Tom Brady and Tim Tebow are plenty marketable. But the two quarterbacks have two prominent deals that aren't exactly in slam-dunk endorsement categories: men's shoes and underwear.

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For Brady, his biggest deal right now is with Australian boot brand UGG. The company has been doing men's boots for decades, but Brady's endorsement last year started drawing attention to that fact. While UGG parent company, Deckers , said its 2011 revenue would rise 33 percent over 2010 levels and UGG's third quarter sales rose 47 percent, Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser downgraded the stock last month speculating that Fall sales have been disappointing.

But it's not clear how much that has to do with sales of men's shoes. There are plenty of mixed messages.

Investors were bullish on Wednesday as the stock was up more than 4 percent as of 2:30 pm ET. At the same time, Deckers insiders might not feel the same way. Its chief marketing officer Angel Martinez, a long time marketer for Reebok who recruited Brady, cashed in $736,000 worth of stock on Tuesday.

Tebow, meanwhile, is the new face of Jockey. The private company signed him last year, but has gotten more aggressive in the last couple weeks, offering $1 million in free products if the Broncos win the Super Bowl and splashing him on the front page of their website.

Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos stands on the sideline during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010.
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Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos stands on the sideline during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010.

But the underwear category is a sensitive one. Does putting Tebow shirtless, dressed only in his underwear, appeal to men? That's going to be the job of Dustin Cohn, Jockey's chief marketing officer, who once worked at Element 79, which was Gatorade's chief ad shop.

It's a tough challenge for both Martinez and Cohn to take two on categories that are traditionally frowned upon by men.

In fact, in a Twitter poll I took (256 of my followers voted), 80 percent said that an endorsement by neither Tebow nor Brady would get them to buy underwear or boots, while 11.7 percent would buy what Tebow is selling and 8.3 percent said they'd go with what Brady was pitching.

But the relatively unchartered waters in this space (yes, Michael Jordan has pitched basic briefs and T's for Hanes for years) could make it more satisfying.

If anyone can break down barriers, it might be these two. An ESPN Sports poll released on Wednesday reflected that, for the first time ever, Tebow was the most popular athlete in the country. And Brady's not too shabby himself. He came in No. 5 in NFL jersey sales this year to Tebow's No. 2 ranking, even though you'd figure everyone who wanted a Brady jersey would have one by now.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com