An interesting situation emerged earlier this week, regarding the ongoing difficulties when it comes to the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson working out a long-term contract.
While discussing the overall situation on PFT Live, Chris Simms and I raised the question of whether Jackson’s effort to handle his business interests without an agent has resulted not only in the delayed realization of his football fortune but also in the absence of the kind of endorsement deals that the 2019 league MVP should have received.
We specifically focused on the chatter in league circles that the absence of a major shoe deal traces to Jackson’s refusal to hire an agent.
Jackson responded, retweeting the clip with a LeBron James gif aimed at expressing a disagreement with our comments. Others presumed that this means Jackson is absolutely right and we’re absolutely wrong.
Former NFL player Andrew Hawkins (whose NFL Pro Era VR game did a deal with Jackson) chimed in with this: “Are we REALLLLYYYY suppose to believe that Lamar Jackson .. human video game… the best running QB in the history of the NFL… couldnt get a shoe deal with any brand he wanted??!! I had a shoe deal…lol.”
The question isn’t whether Jackson couldn’t get any old shoe deal. The question is whether he could close on a shoe deal that properly reflects his skills, abilities, and fame.
Really, where is the shoe deal of the magnitude that Lamar should have? Where are the commercials with Nike, Reebok, Adidas, or whoever that prominently feature Lamar Jackson as the marketing force he should be? Remember the Michael Vick Experience commercial from Nike? Some major company has missed out on an excellent opportunity to market their products to a generation of Lamar Jackson fans through similar strategies.
In June 2021, it was Dak Prescott, not Lamar Jackson, who became the only NFL quarterback under the Nike Jordan brand. Yes, Prescott is the quarterback of America’s Team. But Jackson is (or should be) much closer to fitting the definition of America’s Quarterback than Dak.
Bottom line? Where are the endorsement deals that properly reflect a player of Jackson’s status? He has the Pro Era VR deal and, as of 2020, something with Oakley. A player of his skills and standing should have more. Much more.
He also should be making more from the Ravens. Much more.
That’s our overriding point. Yes, agents take a piece of the pie. But they often get a much bigger pie than a player can get without one.
People can get mad at us for saying that, or they can accept the fundamental truth. There’s a real difference between negotiating contracts like this one your own and negotiating contracts like this with the assistance of people who negotiate contracts like this for a living.