Joe Namath, Muhammed Ali and Deion Sanders: Why Today's Megastars Owe Them

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Joe Namath, Muhammed Ali and Deion Sanders: Why Today's Megastars Owe Them
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Shaq is a brand but hardly the original.

Many of today's athletes want to be more than just a player. None are more visible in this regard than Shaquille O'Neal, who is an author, has done movies, rap videos, commercials and more.

The desire to be a brand can drive their decisions as to where they want to play. There has been talk that part of Dwight Howard's desire to leave Orlando is to get to a bigger stage like New York or Los Angeles to be even more visible.

According to the Denver Post, John Elway asked Tim Tebow about being traded to either the Jacksonville Jaguars or New York Jets and Tebow's preference was New York. In New York, he would have a better chance increase his visibility and brand. In Tebow's case, that might be tied to being able to do even more for his foundation and not necessarily for endorsements.

Cam Newton made no bones about his plans when entering the NFL. As tweeted by Sports Illustrated's Peter King, Newton said, "I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon."

I know we react strongly today to the most recent, to what's right in front of us. Sometimes a history lesson can be good. The idea of publicity and branding goes way back. The following paved the way for today's stars.

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