Worst Endorsement Deals of All-Time for Professional Athletes
What if Sam Hurd told you to “Stay Above the Influence”, or Jerry Sandusky did a Public Service Announcement about the dangers of cyber bullying?
Would you listen to the message? Or would you simply want to kill the messenger?
The answer--of course--is both.
As "morally-conscious" Americans, most of us understand the proverbial line in the sand between right and wrong. In most cases, we are either going to blur that line or maintain our pre-established moral standard, regardless of who is reminding us of the righteous high road.
But in the process, we will probably curse our "money grubbing", "celebrity influenced", "Democracy of hypocrisy" for making us forget what a real role model should look like.
Earlier this month, LeBron James became the front man for a new PSA from the US Army and the Ad Council that encourages kids to stay in school.
In a public statement on January 10th, 2012, Publicis Worldwide New York president Rob Feakins said, “Athletic success can sometimes be seen as an excuse not to be academically successful. That’s why it’s critical that athletes of LeBron’s stature speak to how important staying in school was to their professional career.”
Now this would be all well and good if LeBron didn’t kick-start his professional career by bypassing the minor American dream of a free collegiate education.
It’s impossible to fault LeBron for his straight to the pros decision. He was the most NBA-ready prospect in history. But you don’t need a degree to play professional basketball. And the Cleveland Cavaliers certainly weren’t persuaded by the sparkling Saint Mary’s Saint Vincent’s High School diploma on James’ resume.
The Ad Council is sending the right message.
Kids need to stay in school.
However, if they were set on using an athlete to convey that message of staying in school (and they most certainly did not), it would have been nice to see one who actually grinded through the same amount of schooling as a typical capitalist up and comer, like, say LeBron’s Miami teammate Shane Battier, who graduated from Duke University with a 3.5 GPA.
The LeBron James conundrum illuminates our most glaring flaw as free market consumers. If we can attach a name to the face, we become shallow enough to buy into the celebrity-endorsed product or message.
In doing so, we gauge our discerning eyes out of their figurative sockets.
Here are six other endorsers we never should have listened to.
6. Eli Manning-Citizen Eco Drive
“Unstoppable, Eli Manning is.”
The famous tagline for these laugh-rioting commercials remains the most comical bit of unintentional sarcasm in recent advertising history.
Considering how far he’s come, it’s a little too easy to forget about Eli’s public perception amongst the quarterbacking hierarchy back in 2006, when he first partnered with the self-flattering watch company.
In the media, he was a slightly richer man’s Koy Detmer to Peyton’s Ty (Detmer).
On the field, he was Rex Grossman with a rich last name.
At the podium, he was like a socially awkward pre-teen trying to fill out his wildly under-tailored Bar Mitzvah suit.
The “unstoppable” moniker may not seem comical now, but at the time, it certainly reminded a few football loving watch snobs to stick with Rolex.
5. Michael Jordan-Hanes Underwear
I understand the logic here and it makes perfect sense:
Michael Jordan could turn Amish pitchforks into a hot-button item.
But this is men’s underwear, not basketball shoes or endurance beverages. If there’s one area where fashion is completely irrelevant, it’s the all-important child-creating region on a man’s body.
We don’t care who’s selling the product, as long as it’s comfortable. Plus, most men stop comparing undie fashion once their voices get deep and they start growing hair in regions other than their head.
Even MJ realizes this. That’s why he gives all his erroneous co-stars that infamous “I’m Michael Jordan why are you disgracing me with your presence?” face when they try to discuss underwear with him in the ads.
4. Dan Marino-Nutrisystem
No one is stupid enough to full-heartedly buy into the prototypical “trim fat like a haircut” diet you see on an average infomercial.
But in taking the athletic route, Nutrisystem was at least semi-believable when "big uglies" like John Kruk and Mike Golic were claiming their wives “didn’t think we were as disgusting as we used to be,” after undergoing the fast track diet plan.
But Dan Marino?
He is a golden boy quarterback who probably gained a pound or two a week after retiring.
I mean, seriously. Look at the difference in that before and after picture. It's before and after dinner maybe, not weeks upon weeks of dieting.
Sorry Nutrisystem. This was false advertising at its finest.
3. Tony Romo-Starter
Wearing Starter apparel is like listening to boy bands: It was hip and cool for about an hour in the ‘90’s when the Charlotte Hornets had players nicknamed ‘Zo (Alonzo Mourning) and Grandmama (Larry Johnson), and Justin Timberlake didn’t like girls yet.
But if you are caught wearing Starter gear today, you look about as lame as a second-term President.
This is why it’s so poetically fitting that Tony Romo--who is just about the lamest personality in sports today--is the last remaining Starter henchman.
You can’t help but wonder if Tom Coughlin or Andy Reid break out in silent giggles every time Romo steps out on the field to warm up for a big game in his perfectly nestled, backwards Little League baseball cap?
2. The And1 All-Star Team
Speaking of lame, remember that nameless, faceless, and even shirtless communistic character who littered the back of those old And1 t-shirts with such comically golden trash talk slogans like “I farted on your sister” and “Your Mom is Phat.” ?
Ok, while those weren’t exactly the phrases featured on those summer camp phenomena, they are--shockingly--only about a word or two from the truth.
Maybe this is why the And1 all-star team consisted of such NBA superstars like Raef Lafrentz, Darrell Armstrong, Toby Bailey, Larry Hughes, and Miles Simon.
You know the real And1 slogan?
“Sign with us and we’ll get you a ride-the-pine max contract and lucrative signing bonus…with Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
Disclaimer: That’s if our penny-pinching footwear doesn’t break both of your ankles first.
1. Rafael Palmeiro-Viagra
We were supposed to take you at your word when you swore to Congress that you didn’t use steroids, but then you become a pitchman for an erection pill?
How about just admitting that all your juicy needle pinching left a sobering after-limp on your once potent manhood.
No one is doubting the sincerity of the Viagra pitches because--unlike your baseball career--this time, Raffy, you don’t have a choice.
You need that magic potion to keep you in the game.