Jadeveon Clowney was arguably the biggest star of the show at the NFL combine, but it may be Puma that makes the biggest move of the week.
ESPN's Darren Rovell tweeted out the following report that might shock some who merely assumed one of the more electrifying young talents was headed into the presumed open arms of Nike or Adidas:
Looking like Jadeveon Clowney is going to sign with Puma. Won't be able to wear their logo on NFL field.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 25, 2014
NFL.com's Chase Goodbread spotted the tweet and mentions what an astonishing development this would be for Puma, which has little presence in the American football market:
Clowney would represent a major U.S. catch. While Nike is the sports apparel industry's runaway leader in sales, Adidas and Reebok are well-established, and Under Armour is an up-and-comer. Puma's place in the market, particularly in the U.S., could benefit from an athlete with Clowney's name recognition...
Clowney, a former University of South Carolina defensive end eyeing a top draft slot in the NFL, is no stranger to media hype. This is the same player who set the Internet on fire with his tremendous hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl.
More recently, the 21-year-old who stands 6'5" and weighs 266 pounds has been garnering buzz for his performance at the NFL combine. More specifically, he was lauded for his 40-yard-dash time of 4.53 seconds.
NFL general managers are no doubt debating the talent of an athlete who has the ability to make huge plays on a moment's notice—something that is not lost on potential sponsors.
Nabbing Clowney, the prospect ESPN's Todd McShay has going No. 1 overall in his Feb. 6 mock draft, would be a tremendous prize for Puma.
As Goodbread mentions, Clowney wouldn't be able to benefit from a Puma deal in the form of sweet cleats or other regalia he could wear during an actual game. As noted, Nike enjoys exclusive rights to outfitting the players.
Rovell noted in January that Brian Urlacher was once "fined $100,000 for wearing a hat with the Vitaminwater logo on it to the media event."
As for Clowney, we could go on and on about how gifted the young man is, but NFL.com's Bucky Brooks nails it down in the aftermath of his performance in various events:
Those numbers, which are ridiculous for a man of his size, underscore the elite athleticism, explosiveness and body control Clowney displays on the field. Sure, the questions about his work ethic, maturity and judgment are troubling, but it's impossible to ignore his extraordinary physical gifts. It will be very tough for teams at the top of the draft to pass on a freak like this.
The freak could very well turn some heads in the sponsorship department as well, shunning the obvious for the path less traveled.
This will hardly make Puma the hottest name in the NFL. Like Clowney's career, it will take a tremendous amount of patience and time from the sports apparel contingent to cut out a bigger slice. But like Clowney's latest football foray, it's one heck of a start.
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