Athlete Endorsements You Never Knew About

Sean HojnackiFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2013

Athlete Endorsements You Never Knew About

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    After the venerable Joe DiMaggio was Mr. Coffee, the floodgates opened for athlete endorsements. Mickey Mantle endorsed cigarettes, and it was all downhill from there.

    Suddenly, Phil Rizzuto was hocking the Money Store, Rafael Palmeiro was doing commercials for Viagra, Jimmy Johnson was telling you to try ExtenZe and Chad Johnson (nee Ochocinco, nee Johnson) released Ochocincos cereal which accidentally had a number for a sex line printed on the box (via ESPN).

    But here are some bizarre athlete endorsements you probably didn't know about.

Honorable Mentions

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    There are so many amusing athlete endorsements, it was really hard to decide which ones to pick. In the end, video trumped lack of video, and there are eight excellent commercials I found for this top 10 list.

    But here are the athlete endorsements that just missed the cut.

    Yes, Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett "The Diesel" Keisel  has his own line of salsa. Strangely, "Fear the Beard" has a salsa that comes in mild. Does the hot one actually contain diesel?

    Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has his own brand of cereal called Fastball Flakes, but he condoned the use of his image and name to sell it before ever eating it.

    Dallas Stars winger Jaromir Jagr has his own peanut butter, and why not?

    And lastly, for all you fans of soccer (also known as non-American, non-Canadian, non-Aussie-rules football), good luck finding David Beckham's Omega-3 Fish Fingers. They're great for kids!

    Now, on to the cream of the crop.

Manny Pacquiao, Datu Puti Vinegar & Soy Sauce

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    Manny Pacquiao is such a big star in the Philippines that he was elected to Congress. So of course he has his own vinegar and soy sauce! I think my favorite part is the vinegar face made by multiple people.

    Though I don't speak Tagalog (I think that's the language in the commercial), I do enjoy the part where Pac-Man informs his friend (in English), "Boxing is not for killing" (0:26 mark). I also love how they frame the ad as some sort of HBO 24/7-style documentary on Pacquiao.

    And it certainly seems that Pac-Man's companion is flirting with his mother at the end of the commercial.

Steve Smith, Bojangles Chicken

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    Yes, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith loves fried chicken from some sort of unfortunately-named franchise called Bojangles.

    But don't worry, it can't be construed as racist because there's a white guy in it—former Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, aka, the "Ragin' Cajun."

    They both throw footballs at a barn and it blows up (naturally), and they are on the run from the law, presumably because they have robbed enough chicken to fill the dashboard of their car.

    I enjoy the 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon vibe going on here, but why did they have to ruin that angle by having these guys riding around in the General Lee? Did they even have African Americans on the The Dukes of Hazzard?

Ray Lewis, off-Brand Snuggie

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    As you can clearly see from the above photo, Baltimore Ravens linebacker and budding TV evangelist Ray Lewis likes to snuggle.

    So it shouldn't surprise you that as part of his clothing line, "RL52," he held a contest in December 2010 to name his very own brand of wearable blanket with sleeves. No, it's not a Snuggie, that's a registered trademark.

    Oddly, I was unable to find out what name won the contest and there are no RL52 snuggies for sale on eBay.

    And even more oddly, when you try to click on the link to his fashion line (www.rl52style.com), it takes you to a website (I am not making this up) that sells pills to get rid of something called "Bartholin cysts."

    Whatever you do, DO NOT google that. You'll be sorry. I'll just tell you that it's a "women's issue."

Carson Palmer, John Morrell Sausage

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    Yes, Oakland Raiders QB Carson Palmer wants you to "Go long...er." With a John Morrell Smoked Sausage, that is. This comes from way back when Palmer was a "star" with the Cincinnati Bengals.

    What could be manlier and command more respect than endorsing a "bigger than the bun smoked sausage?" Why, readying to insert said sausage into your gaping gullet in a print ad, of course!

Serena Williams, Tampax

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    Yes, Serena Williams endorses Tampax. Nothing wrong with that. Just as long as the commercial is done tastefully.

    But some advertising geniuses decided to promote Tampax's new "Pearl with LeakGuard" by pitting Serena head-to-head against the personification of Mother Nature.

    Williams wears some suggestively immaculate tennis whites, and the commercial features Mother Nature answering questions about her grudge match with Serena at a mock press conference.

    And Mother Nature enjoys using double entendre more than a high school frosh.

    The highlights, I mean, er, lowlights: "She has been blessed with so many gifts, and today I'm going to bless her with mine...Bad blood? Well, there is plenty of blood, but none of it's bad...Serena loves me like an aunt. Aunt Flo. No, really, we're very close."

    Wow. I should've warned readers that viewer discretion was advised.

Alexander Ovechkin, Eastern Motors

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    Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin signed on to make a commercial for Eastern Motors, a D.C. area used-car dealership. But someone should have thought this through a little better.

    I'm not sure if his poor singing makes me want to buy a car, but it certainly makes me want a shot of vodka, as Ovie himself suggests.

    I also like that he predicts it will end up on YouTube. This commercial probably didn't do much to help Eastern Motors' poor reputation.

Ben Roethlisberger, Big Ben’s Beef Jerky

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    By now, most of us have surmised that Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is a man of less than upstanding character. I don't think I need to go into that.

    But is his character so questionable that he can't even promote jerky?

    That's right, as if women didn't hate beef jerky enough already, Roethlisberger had his own brand of the dried, cured trucker's snack, which was creatively and unfortunately called Big Ben’s Beef Jerky ("Super Championship Edition").

    Not only that, but Pittsburgh company PLB Sports decided to drop the product altogether due to Roethlisberger's legal troubles (via the New York Times). For some reason, it's still on their website even though it's "out of stock."

    If you're in the mood for some further laughs, radio host Jim Rome has a rather amusing rant about the company cutting ties with Big Ben for Big Ben’s Beef Jerky. "Hmm, now who can we get to endorse it instead?"

Lamar Odom, Unbreakable by Khloe and Lamar

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    Warning: depending on where you work, the above video may or may not be "NSFW."

    Yes, Los Angeles Clippers forward Lamar Odom and his wife, Khloe Kardashian, have their very own "one-of-a-kind unisex fragrance."

    What? Where exactly is that section in Sephora? Did they just mix perfume and cologne?

    I also love how unconvincingly Odom delivers his one line: "That perfect mix of masculine and feminine. There is a beauty in believing one cannot exist without the other."

Tom Brady, Stetson Cologne

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    We all know that New England Patriots QB Tom Brady inexplicably endorses UGG boots (for men?), but if you have a good memory, you may remember this one from 2007.

    Yes, Tom Terrific for Stetson Cologne. Hmmm, Stetson's been making cologne since 1865? Ohh, they've been making cowboy hats since 1865. And their cologne actually smells like the inside of a cowboy hat after a long cattle drive clear across Oklahoma.

    If you're a big Brady fan (or a big Stetson fan?), there's also a very uninteresting "Making Of" video for this commercial. Tom should definitely be "Bradying" after this endorsement. At least his fans were.

Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps, Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero World Tour

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    Ladies and gentleman, on guitar, Alex Rodriguez! On bass, the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps! On drums, skateboarding deity Tony Hawk! And on vocals, the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant!

    Wow. Now that's a star-studded ad. Now if only they had wheeled out Tom Cruise for a wicked saxophone solo and given it the full Risky Business treatment.

    While you might remember this ad from 2008, in light of the recent imbroglio with A-Rod, I just couldn't resist. I think it's safe to say that his diminished public image won't see him endorsing any products in the near (or distant) future.