Professional athletes advertising products so that they can make some extra cash on the side is hardly a new practice. Back in the day, MLB all-time great Babe Ruth had his name associated with multiple products. Former NFL quarterback Joe Namath famously wore pantyhose for commercials. Former NFL head coach and color commentator John Madden now has his name tied to a video game series.
The athletes who are ultrasuccessful in these endeavors eventually establish their own brands. It is through such brands that athletes are able to branch out into the business world and become more than just sports stars. Some athletes find that they are able to make even more money via their brands than what they made from clubs that were willing to pay them millions of dollars.
Michael Jordan is the prime example. Jordan last played in the NBA in a time before high-definition television was found in homes all over the United States, yet according to Forbes, he remains "the most recognizable athlete of all time."
LeBron James may not match MJ in neither rings nor in brand power, but James has wisely set himself up for life after his playing days. No soccer player in history has had the star power of David Beckham. Ronda Rousey became so famous outside of the UFC that she would easily find a plethora of gigs if she were to chose to never again step foot into the Octagon.
Over time, there have been numerous stories about athletes going broke after their playing careers are over. Athletes who are able to form their own brands hope to never experience such financial woes. All playing careers come to an end in time, but a popular brand can exist long after an athlete's prime has passed.