Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

RGIII Signs Endorsement Deal With Sports Protection Company Evoshield


The hottest NFL rookie endorser, Robert Griffin III, has scored yet another sponsorship deal.

Source: EvoShield

On Thursday, athletic protective gear company Evoshield told CNBC it had signed the No. 2 overall draft pick, who had carved the niche market out of his adidas deal so that he could sign with the brand.

Justin Niefer, Evoshield’s director of product development, said that RGIII was wearing Evoshield since his freshman at Baylor, thanks to a relationship the company had made with the football team’s equipment managers and trainers.

With more people than ever before paying attention to preventative protection on the field, companies in the sports protective gear space have seen sales skyrocket. Niefer says that Evoshield’s revenues have doubled every nine months for the last couple years.

“In the past, no one wanted to wear protective gear until after they got hurt,” Niefer said. “But that has changed. “Schools, teams and now players themselves are finally realizing that their body is their biggest investment. Guys like RGIII have worn our stuff not after he got hurt, but to protect himself from getting hurt.”

The company liked the speedy RGIII to be its first football endorser to help them shed the stigma that protective gear has to be bulky.

Beginning today, Evoshield is selling three new products for football players on its Web site: a girdle, a rib shirt and a protective arm sleeve. The girdle and the shirt feature Evoshield’s proprietary gel to shell technology, where athletes take the gel out of the package and shape it to their body. Within seconds, it permanently hardens.

Those pieces are wore by being placed into holes in compression material. Evoshield says its compression material now features a new nano cell technology that enables the material to be lighter than any protective foam on the market.

As a growing company, Evoshield has spent the majority of its marketing dollars traveling around talking to athletes, trainers and equipment managers. Over the last two years, the brand has flourished in baseball.

While Troy Tulowitzki, Alex Gordon and Yadier Molina are the only MLB players that get paid to wear the brand, countless others wear the gear, including its padded batting glove. The batting glove which debuted in November sold out its supply of 10,000 in less than two months, Niefer said, and that’s at a $60 price point, $20 higher than any other batting glove.

Niefer said that the company will advertise its relationship with RGIII mostly through social media, videos and good old public relations. RGIII, who joined Twitter on April 3, already had more than 217,000 Twitter followers.

While the company will roll out its football line on its Web site, it will be available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and Eastbay on July 1st. The hybrid pro girdle and the hybrid pro rib shirt will sell for $84.99 and $89.99, respectively. The protective sleeve, which includes the low impact nano material but does not include the hardened shell, sells for $29.99.

Evoshield doesn’t have a whole lot of competition. There’s a company called Unequal, which protects football players using its Kevlar technology. And Niefer knows the big boys are watching the protective apparel space closely.

Said Niefer: “We talk to the shoe and apparel companies on a regular basis. It’s what drives us to gain more and more market share. We want to be in a position so that if they try to copycat us, our brand means more. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing this deal with RGIII.”

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