Lamenting the Poor NFL Player Choices for Commercials This Season

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IApril 6, 2017

As they do every year, several advertisers are using NFL players to promote their products. However, this year, something is different. The lack of success this season for the players being chosen for these ads.

Osi Umenyiora, injured before the season began, is promoting 5-Hour Energy.

Braylon Edwards, who underachieved in dropping more balls than even T.O., is also a 5-Hour spokesperson. 

Brian Urlacher, on a team that missed the playoffs, was able to star in a deodorant commercial.

Reggie Bush appeared in a few as well. Too bad he didn’t appear in many big plays for his team.

Even LaDanian Tomlinson, two years removed from his MVP and record-setting year, did not live up to expectations. Yet we are asked to buy soup because he eats it. 

Perhaps, though, the biggest bust in commercials was Matt Hasselbeck. The quarterback, who’s even more bald than Sinead O’Connor, was featured in several commercials, including one for Expedia in which he claims to have accidentally drawn up his team’s secret play. Problem is, he wasn’t even on the field enough this year to know any secret plays.

Even Peyton Manning's ads, which have been common for the last decade, seem to be failing. His latest one, about “taking a hike in San Diego,” seemed prophetic, given that  his team did "take a hike" after losing their first game of the playoffs (again).

Now it’s hard to predict who will perform well and who will be a bust. And since the football season is the shortest of all the major sports, banking on a player to promote your company is a risk. After all, you’ve got to have the ad running long enough to have an effect on potential buyers. So, if a player does go down with an injury, or is ineffective, there’s really nothing that can be done, and not enough time to shoot a replacement ad.

I still remember the Nike commercial of last year, which was the most adrenaline-pumped I’ve ever seen. You remember it too. It was set to the theme of “The Last Mohicans,” in which Shawn Merriman ran through various weather conditions to get to the quarterback. And then Rams running back Steven Jackson would pick up the ball and run for the goal line. Perhaps being in that ad jinxed their careers.

As for the two Super Bowl teams, the only players I can think of in commercials are Ben Roethlisberger, who reminded us in “TV land” to buy a fathead, and Kurt Warner, who does a public service announcement to keep gym class part of schools.

It used to be that appearing on the cover of the John Madden football video game was a jinx. But with what we’ve seen this year, maybe appearing in any ad is hazardous to your team’s success.