Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning Lead 2013-14 NFLPI Top 50 Players Sales List

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIApril 28, 2014

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 08:  Quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks walks onto the field before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Seattle Mariners on Opening Day at Safeco Field on April 8, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The results are in for the NFL Players Inc. Top 50 Players Sales List for 2013-14, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ranked No. 1. That put him ahead of his Super Bowl XLVIII counterpart in Denver Broncos superstar Peyton Manning, who was the previous top-ranked player. reported the news Monday in an official release, which contained everyone in the top 50 and revealed how Wilson jumped from No. 19 to the first spot.

Here is a complete list of the 50 players who are helping drive the NFL's impassioned bandwagon:

2013-14 NFLPI Top 50 Player Sales List
1Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks26Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
2Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos27Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
3Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers28Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
4Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins29DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys
5Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers30Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
6Tom Brady, New England Patriots31Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
7Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks32Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
8Eli Manning, New York Giants33Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
9Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts34Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
10Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints35Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
11J.J. Watt, Houston Texans36Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
12Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks37Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
13Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings38Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
14Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers39A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
15Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys40Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
16Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers41Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
17Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers42Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
18Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots43Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
19Arian Foster, Houston Texans44Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
20Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions45Von Miller, Denver Broncos
21Victor Cruz, New York Giants46Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
22Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys47Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
23Wes Welker, Denver Broncos48Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
24Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins49Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
25LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles50Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

Numbers for the rankings were calculated using 70 different licensees and exceeded $1 billion in sales in the year. The release provided a further explanation of what the rankings take into account:

The list, released quarterly by NFLPI, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFL Players Association, is based on total overall sales of all licensed products from online and traditional retail outlets as reported by more than 70 NFLPI licensees such as Nike, VF Imagewear, Fanatics, Outerstuff, Fathead, McFarlane Toys, Oyo Sportstoys, Bleacher Creatures, Forever Collectibles and Photo File. Licensed product categories include men’s, women’s and youth game jerseys and t-shirts, player murals, figurines, matted and framed photos, bobbleheads, drinkware, jewelry, electronic device accessories, among others.

It's amazing what winning can do for retail, because two of Wilson's most notable teammates in running back Marshawn Lynch and stalwart cornerback Richard Sherman were on the list at Nos. 7 and 12 respectively.

But the NFL is a quarterback-driven league as much as it's ever been, so it comes as little surprise that Lynch is the only player in the top 10 who doesn't play the game's most vital position.

Despite leading the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in his second season after being a third-round draft pick, Wilson recently tweeted that further greatness should be expected:

Perhaps he was right in referencing what's to come on the field, but away from it, there's no question he's developed into one of the league's most marketable stars. As a true underdog story due to his draft status and height, there's never any shortage of excitement when Wilson has the ball in his hands.

One of the premier rivalries in the league is between the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. Almost by default and because of his rare athletic ability and arm talent, Niners QB Colin Kaepernick vaulted his way into the third slot behind only Wilson and Manning in the top 50 list.

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks after the Seahawks defeated the 49ers 23-17 during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Kaepernick had been 15th the last time around, but now finds himself ahead of the likes of Washington's Robert Griffin III, Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers and even New England Patriots legend Tom Brady.

All of those signal-callers live in big football markets with loyal fans, so Kaepernick has done well to pass them with his strong and growing brand. Despite a big bounce-back season in 2013, another Golden State quarterback in Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers finds himself all the way in 47th.

Pro Football Focus alluded to Rivers' passing prowess on third down, where he was better than Wilson and Manning in that order:

Success on the gridiron doesn't always translate to big retail value away from it, as is the evident case with Rivers.

But every player in the top 50—save for perhaps Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson at 37th—has had immense success in the NFL. One notable mainstay is Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who has slid from second and fifth in the previous two years but still remains in the top 20 at No. 17.

There is a good amount of balance between venerated veterans such as Manning, Rodgers and Brady along with the newer, fresher stars such as Wilson, Kaepernick and Griffin atop the rankings. All of those players have dynamic personalities. Whether it's being composed, passionate or outspoken or any combination, they all exude the characteristics capable of franchise quarterbacks.

The fact that these retail sales exceed $1 billion shows just how much interest the NFL generates and how it should continue to thrive. Player safety concerns will be prominent moving forward, but if the nonprofit league can keep generating this kind of revenue off merchandise, perhaps more funds can be allocated to benefit the players who wear the jerseys and hit the field on Sundays.

This news is just confirmation that being on a winning NFL team is a pinnacle in North American Sports popularity, and that should remain the case for the foreseeable future. In the case of Wilson, he doesn't seem fazed by his meteoric rise and should maintain his high level of play as the Seahawks seek to build a dynasty—even in the parity-ridden modern league climate.

If Wilson manages to pull that off, bet on him to be first in these rankings in the years to come, especially with such a formidable retail presence in Manning nearing the conclusion of his epic career.


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