Athlete endorsements have always struck me as an odd business practice for corporations. Not in every case, since an endorsement still carries some economic weight to it, I suppose. It's the mega-mega-mega deals that have always befuddled me, and especially those given to rookies. Does Nike really reap all the benefits from paying Kobe or LeBron bajillions of dollars? Do they even break even?
Well, with the current economic climate, we're probably not going to see anything like the $13 million/year deal that LeBron signed with Nike as a rookie. That doesn't mean we won't see anything like that for veterans, but for unproven rookies with nothing but hype and some high school stats, that generous contract is probably never going to cross their hands. Numbers in the seven figures are now going to be numbers in the five figures. Maybe.
According to CNBC's Darren Rovell, that's not entirely because of the economy. It's because Nike and Adidas and others are realizing it's just a pretty freaking stupid business practice.
The answer is no. And the scary thing about the business is when that the economy bounces back, aside from the rare guy, a lot of the shoe deal numbers that existed in the past won't return.
The same is even true for the NBA draft picks. Six years removed from LeBron James signing a deal that averaged $13 million a year, sources are telling CNBC that it's not likely that any NBA draft pick this year will make more than $1 million a year off a shoe deal.
Since shoe companies can only really hit paydirt off a signature shoe, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour are now in the driver's seat.
Dwyane Wade's initial bargain deal with Converse in 2003 ($400,000 a year) is going to seem expensive when looking at this year's picks. One agent told us that shoe companies that would have offered kids $250,000 a year two years ago, could now offer $25,000.
Well, maybe until and unless another kid like LeBron shakes David Stern's hand on draft day.
New York magazine has five short films on their site that are playing at the Tribeca film festival. They're all terrific, but this one is kind of, sort of, sports-related. Wrestling is a sport, right?
For anyone who enjoyed Mickey Rourke and the deserved hype surrounding The Wrestler, there's this short, entitled Team Taliban, following a Muslim wrestler and his struggle to fit in and succeed in his culture, and in the culture of wrestling as he takes on the character of a bad guy.
By now, I'm sure you've all heard about the rumor that the Indians are considering trading Cliff Lee. Except, they aren't. The original article, on CBSSPORTS.com, cited "sources." Here's the pertinent paragraphs:
But multiple officials familiar with the Indians said this week that they wouldn't be at all surprised to see Lee get traded if the Indians fall far out of the race, just as CC Sabathia was dealt away when Cleveland fell out of it last year.
"I think they'd love to trade him," one of the officials said.
Why would you trade a guy who went 22-3 and won a Cy Young? Simple. Because you don't think he can do it again.
"They might think this is the time to sell high on him," another official said.
So yeah, the article went from stand-alone rumor-mongering to full-fledge internet rumor in the matter of a day. And it had no basis to begin with. Shapiro even said so in a story by Paul Hoynes in the Plain Dealer, saying a trade is not on his radar right now.
What I think about the original story and all the blogs and papers that linked to it without noting that it was absolutely full of shit can be conveyed easily with this clip from the Colbert Report, where Stephen discusses congressman Bill Posey and his relationship with the rumor that Obama wasn't born in the United States.
All that needs to be said about the relationship between the Browns fan base and the Browns merchandise department can be summed up in a few words: Droughns. Frye. Rison. Brown.
The list can go on, of course, but the point is that it's pretty damn hard (and expensive) to purchase a replica Browns jersey without having said player get injured, cut, traded, or completely flop his way off the team and, in some cases, out of the league.
We've all been through it. Buy the damn thing and two years later the player's gone.
A few exceptions in recent memory: Edwards, Quinn, Cribbs, and Joe Thomas.
So take a look at the Cleveland Browns on-line team shop these days, and once again the problem is crystal clear. By my count, two vintage throwbacks and three jerseys of players no longer with the team are on the front page right now. And that doesn't even count guys who still might be shipped out of town soon.
There's Edwards, who may or may not be traded before the season starts, and regardless of whether he makes it through this year, might be gone the year after.
There's Kellen Winslow — gone.
There's Andra Davis — gone.
There's Donte Stallworth — umm, probably gone.
There's Joe Jurevicius — gone.
There's Quinn or Anderson — one of whom might still be traded.
Get the point?
Of course, if Peter King's right and Alex Mack is gonna be a center in this league for ten years to come, maybe you plunk down some of your hard-earned cash on a Mack jersey — a bargain at $88 (and it will have his real number on there once the contract is signed and the number announced.)
Golf Digest just released their latest course rankings, and Ohio was well represented as always. Below are the rankings for Buckeye state courses, their designers, and the year they were constructed.
19. Muirfield Village GC — Dublin, OH; Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead; 1974
35. The Golf Club — New Albany, OH; Pete Dye; 1967
40. Inverness Club — Toledo, OH; Donald Ross
56. Double Eagle Club — Galena, OH; Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf; 1992
61. Scioto CC — Columbus, OH; Donald Ross; 1916
Delonte West was Rome's special correspondent and his video yielded some absolutely tremendous material: The Cavs call Dominic the ballboy "McLovin'," Delonte watches recorded Sponge Bob episodes while getting his hair braided at home, he's seen carrying some fried chicken with hot sauce and a fruit punch around the practice facility, and Delonte schooling J.J. Hickson on the etiquette of bringing donuts. (Hat tip to Shaver Sports)