Peyton Manning, LeBron James: the Age of the Entertainer-Athlete

Jordan WalkerContributor IMarch 30, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:   Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts prepares to enter the game against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL Game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 23, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

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LeBron James stands, his head down sullenly, at a podium stacked with microphones.

The press room is full of people, and camera flashes occur rapidly. 

He speaks, almost dejectedly:

"After a long discussion with my friends and my family, I've decided..."

His head snaps up as he flashes that signature LeBron grin.

" sign with the Cleveland Browns baby!"

There is a new type of athlete emerging in the sports world, one that is integral to the face of the industry.

This new superstar persona? The Entertainer-Athlete.

This advertisement, released by State Farm Insurance, is an example of the new role some athletes are taking as off-field entertainers on top of their on-field responsibilities. These entertainers are pivotal to their sports, some of which have come under fire for recent cheating and doping scandals, and even run-ins with the law.

These players are giving people reasons to watch as well.  

Unique and eccentric sports personalities give a more personal side to the sports they're associated with, a human side that fans can relate to and stand behind.

Another advertisement that comes to mind is Steve Nash's recent endorsement of Vitamin Water.

Basketball players and other no-mask sports stars have always been exceptionally easy to recognize, both in and out of their sport.  However, with full face-mask sports like football, player identification can be rather difficult. 

Ads like this Peyton Manning Sprint commercial, give fans a view of the player behind the intimidating iron face guard.  Brian Urlacher and Tony Stewart are spokesmen for Old Spice. 

All in all, these hybrid celebrities by far and beyond outclass the crossovers of yesteryear.

They represent themselves, their teams, the companies they endorse, their respective sports, and athletes across the globe in a positive light.  

Look for more athletes to take advantage of this new marketing tactic in the very near future.