Peyton Manning has scored his second victory of the year over Tom Brady.
The first came on the golf course. The second came in a competition that required even less effort than swinging a metal club.
Under the specific umbrella of NFLPA-related marketing and royalty revenues, Manning made more money than any other player, active or retired, in the fiscal year ending February 29. Brady came in second.
Via Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com, the NFLPA annual report shows that Manning generated more than $3.3 million, in money that largely came from video games, apparel, and trading cards. Brady finished with $2.998 million.
As explained by Kaplan, most of the money comes from Electronic Arts, Nike, Fanatics, and Panini. The money generated by Manning and Brady does not include individual endorsement deals, like Manning’s ongoing Nationwide commercials.
The rest of the top ten consisted of Saquon Barkley ($2.34 million), JuJu Smith-Schuster ($2.19 million), Kyler Murray ($1.81 million), Aaron Rodgers ($1.45 million), Todd Gurley ($1.26 million), Baker Mayfield ($1.13 million), and Ezekiel Elliott ($1.01 million).
So how does a retired player earn more in marketing and royalty money than any other active player? Kaplan explains that the “demand for Manning’s jersey, his avatar in video games, and his likeness on rectangular pieces of cardboard outstrip most if not all current players.”
It still doesn’t make sense that a player who hasn’t played since Super Bowl 50 would generate more money than current superstars. Who’s buying that many Peyton Manning jerseys at this point? Why would Panini pay Peyton so much money to use him on football cards? While Electronic Arts cuts independent deals with retired players to get their names and likenesses in the Madden game (retired players are among the best and most popular options for the popular Ultimate Team feature), it’s not believed to be a seven-figure (or even a six-figure) payday, especially with so many former players in the game.
Regardless, nearly five years after his final NFL season, Manning remains a major marketing force, even with so many great players who are still, you know, playing.