Sports

NFL players trade in gas-guzzling SUVs for all-electric Teslas

Key Points
  • Elon Musk's Tesla is more popular than ever in the NFL judging from interviews at a Super Bowl media day.
  • Several players on the Kansas Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers own a Tesla.
  • Chad Henne said he loves the simplicity of his Model X. 
  • Tesla shares have been whipsawing in recent days.
VIDEO0:4900:49
Ask the Athletes: Hottest new car in NFL: Tesla

While investors may not be able to make up their minds about Tesla, with its stock whipsawing in recent days, the electric carmaker has a strong base of fans within the NFL.

Speaking at a media day, multiple players for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs told CNBC that Teslas are the NFL's hottest new ride.

While large SUVs were once the ultimate status symbol for football stars, today's generation of athletes say energy efficient cars like Tesla are becoming more popular in the league than ever before.

Rookie Jody Fortson, a wide receiver for the Chiefs, owns a Tesla and is a big fan.

"It's like an airplane on wheels. When I'm on the highway, I feels like it's taking off ... It's fast ... like 0 to 60 miles per hour in literally two seconds," he said.

Fortson said his mom helped co-sign for his Tesla. Even for NFL players, Elon Musk's electric vehicles can be costly. The price of a Tesla Model S starts at $79,990.

"I know a lot of guys on the team have a Tesla," said kicker Harrison Butker. "The technology they have in there is pretty amazing," he added.

Backup quarterback Chad Henne bought a Tesla X in June 2018. He says he loves the simplicity and how user friendly it is.

Tesla Model 3 is being displayed for the press members ahead of 97th Brussels Motor Show at Brussels Expo Center in Brussels, Belgium on January 19, 2019.
Dursun Aydemir | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Tesla stock has been on fire this year, up 73% year to date, and soaring to an intraday record of $968.99 on Tuesday. Analysts have been increasing the stock's price targets and investors fear missing out on the action. However, others warn that Tesla is overvalued and worry a bubble could be on the horizon.

That argument may have gained some support as the stock swooned Wednesday, closing down more than 17% at $734.70. The selloff was sparked by concerns that the coronavirus outbreak would delay cars initialy scheduled for delivery in February.

Others might joke that Tesla's popularity in the locker room could be a sign that there's a bubble. But not everyone on the team is a fan.

Punter Dustin Colquitt said the Kansas City winters make an SUV necessary.

"We've had snow on the ground for two months and black ice ... so I'm driving a truck with four-wheel drive ... probably hurting our greenhouse and adding to the emissions," he said.

"I'm more of a (Kia) Telluride guy," said first-year linebacker Emmanuel Smith.

"I saw a Tesla park itself in a parking lot and I was like 'Oh my! This is what it's like now!'"

The San Francisco 49ers, who are located just 12 miles away from Tesla's Palo Alto headquarters, said Tesla is just as popular on their team.

"This is the most Teslas I've seen on one team that I've been on," said Levine Toilolo, a tight end for the Niners.

And for some players, the automation factor of the Tesla appeals to them.

"Yeah I have a Tesla Model X," said offensive lineman Cameron Erving. " I let it do the driving," he laughs.