The New York Jets’ proverbial bench warmer, Tim Tebow, makes nearly $4 million a year from endorsement deals. But marketing experts say his lack of playing time may be hurting his brand.
“It has been a handicap, no question,” said Lee Berke, a sports-media analyst and president of LHB Sports in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “From the football standpoint, he has been out of sight. In terms of performing on the field, it hasn’t been like the year before. That’s an issue. I think he’s going to need the opportunity to prove himself again on the field.”
Tebow has endorsement agreements with five different sponsors: Jockey, Nike, SOUL Electronics, TiVo and The FRS Company, which sells energy and protein drinks.
But Jets coach Rex Ryan has gone an entire season without starting Tebow as quarterback. In fact, Tebow has been on the field for just 76 offensive snaps. He’s thrown eight passes and completed six of them. He has absolutely no touchdowns to his credit — a dramatic change from the 2011 season when he led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Brand experts say Tebow’s invisibility during the 2012 season has prevented him from maximizing his marketing and sponsorship opportunities. In order for Tebow to continue to be in demand as a product endorser, experts say he’ll have to rebuild his brand by becoming a starting quarterback again.
“Just as the government’s heading to a fiscal cliff, I think Tebow’s heading to that marketing cliff where he’s got to get some reps or he just becomes another footnote in NFL history,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.
There’s no indication that any of Tebow’s current sponsors plan to end their agreements with him. There’s every indication that Tebow and the Jets will part company after the season ends.
“We hope (Tebow) gets more opportunities to demonstrate his football skills soon,” said a Jockey spokesperson.
That opportunity may be with the Jacksonville Jaguars — that’s where Tebow has his best shot at being a starting quarterback in the NFL.