NIL: Older Twist On A Newer Policy

As part of a piece I wrote about NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) a month ago, I highlighted my belief of local and even larger businesses signing already committed players as a positive way to pursue NIL. Even though it was introduced without restrictions, a local partnership would not only help the player but maybe the business as well. In Lincoln Nebraska, that situation may be coming to life and in a way far greater than anyone could have imagined.

It starts with Decoldest Crawford, a player who played just down the road from Shreveport out of Green Oaks High School. His name started circulating a few years back as possibly one of the “coolest” names for an athlete. Well, after a short stint at home state school LSU, a new era for Crawford on and off the field has begun.

Last week, Crawford signed arguably the coldest NIL deal of all-time, literally and figuratively. An air conditioning company known as “SOS Heating & Cooling” cashed in on Crawford’s name and made him the face of the company for the time being. This isn’t a huge deal in terms of monetary value but the main point is allowing the young man to obtain the value he represents to himself and the university.

This got me thinking. What NIL deals would have been perfect fits over the years? Also, these athletes are being paid so we can put them in T.V. commercials, right?

Well, let’s manifest that idea and pinpoint some deals that would have been awesome to see, just like Crawford’s. Below are my best takes at what these NIL advertisements would look like.

1. Michigan State Quarterback Jeff Smoker Signs With Pit Boss

What’s ironic here is Smoker is one of the first players I ever remember having a promotion that easily could have been trademarked. His teammate and favorite target, Charles Rodgers, was an incredible wideout who was the number two pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Spartan Stadium used to have billboards talking about where there’s fire (Rodgers picture) there’s smoke (Smoker picture). I thought that was so cool and obviously years later it stuck with me.

So what if the NIL era came early and Pit Boss utilized Smoker to sell…smokers? Pit Boss formed in 1999 and was only a few years old as a company when Smoker was in school. This was a perfect match to the word as the ad could read “Even in the coldest temperatures in East Lansing, these smokers, just like Jeff, stay hot in the harshest of elements.”

2. Michigan State Running Back Javon Ringer Signs With Boost Mobile

Staying in East Lansing, if I can remember anything from the early 2000s, it’s those dumb yet catchy Boost Mobile commercials saying “Where you at?” Well why wouldn’t you use a guy named Ringer, who was a consensus All-American to sell a phone product? I can already picture the ad starting with their catchphrase, only to have Ringer pick up and say “In the end zone baby.” Follow it up with a voiceover of “Boost Mobile, All-American trusted, All-American guaranteed.”

3. Ted Ginn Jr. Signs With Jimmy John’s

This one needs hardly any description as Ginn Jr. is still the fastest player I’ve ever seen on a college football field. Even in his freshman year before the game against Michigan, they had a graphic showing a cheetah which was fast, a Ferrari which was faster and then Ginn Jr. which was fastest. Jimmy John’s slogan “Freaky Fast” advertisement could be used in a multitude of ways here, probably a shot of Ginn Jr. in a blur delivering meal after meal. This one was too easy.

4. Ole Miss Running Back BenJarvus Green-Ellis Signs With Actual Law-firm

This one would have been a no brainer that actually could have turned into a bidding war for his service. His hyphenated named already looked and sounded like a law firm, which ultimately garnered his nickname “The Law Firm.” The intrigue here is how many businesses would have pursued him? Would it have been just a local shootout (no pun intended on the Rebels) or would it have been a national affair?

Either way, this could have been a really good setup for a solid court commercial. Green-Ellis could be the defendant getting accused of scoring too many TDs. He and his team will plead not guilty as the judge rules him innocent. The judge then opens his robe showing a Green-Ellis jersey and goes “Hotty Toddy!” Chef’s kiss.

5. Stanford Quarterback Davis Mills Signs With General Mills

This one is a real shot in the dark but a deal that could have been similar to Quinn Ewers. Ewers had a massive NIL deal (1.4 million dollars) with GT Sports Marketing straight out of high school and before he even took a snap. Eventually he did take a snap at Ohio State, but since has transferred to Texas where he has also signed with Fortnite and Epic Games.

So he has done an incredible job marketing himself before playing any valuable football. Where I’m getting with this is Mills, just like Ewers, was an elite five star quarterback prospect out of high school. I’ve already drafted this magnificent ad where Mills is dressed as a military general giving his spiel. “Hi, I’m General Mills and my cereals can get you the fuel you need to be ready for any battle you plan on fighting today.”

6. Florida Tight End Kyle Pitts Signs With Old Spice

I had a lot of fun maneuvering my way into this one. This is a solid ad here with a person voicing it over. “No better way to protect your pits than with Old Spice. Our deodorant, just like Kyle here (waves), catches everything thrown at it. With Old Spice on your body, sweat never becomes an issue.”

Current Player Deals That Need To Happen

As far as players that are playing right now, some really cool deals have already been made. Before Crawford’s deal, the coolest deal title belonged to Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry, who signed with, well…Kool-Aid. Other deals have been based on monetary values of really important players, and it has people shook.

Back in June, images surfaced of Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud riding around in a $150,000 Bentley Bentayga as part of his promotion with a Columbus dealership. Shortly after, he swapped that out for a Mercedes G Wagon in what he categorized as a “game-day decision.” More power to him and to all the athletes who have been compensated for their own worth.

Speaking of worth, let’s get in to these deals for current players I think would be well worth it for all parties involved.

1. Iowa Linebacker Jack Campbell Signs With Campbell’s

Another no-brainer here since Campbell’s signs an amazing linebacker, but one who shares the name. Also, Campbell’s has always supported football players for years and made fabulous commercials. The best ones came from Donovan McNabb, since his mom was great in those ads.

What I could see happening here is something that will be great, but also emotional at the same time. Kinnick Stadium is famous for the wave they perform at the end of the first quarter towards the children’s hospital that sits just outside the stadium. Campbell could walk around handing out Campbell’s Chunky Soup to some of those less fortunate patients, just like Brian Urlacher used to do with the teachers in his commercials with the company. I really think that this ad would just be an immediate hit.


2. Alabama Safety Jordan Battle Signs With Academy Sports

Battle is one of the best safeties in the country and could have easily made the leap to the NFL last year. However, it seems he has a sour taste in his mouth after a National Championship loss, as he admitted that was the heaviest factor in his return. In an article by’s Barkley Truax, Battle’s NIL worth is around $617,000, for 37th best in the country.

Inking a deal with Academy would just make sense, considering his worth and influence. The commercial could be him walking through the isles talking about all the great deals they have in store, showing some equipment off. Ultimately, Battle stops by the “Battle” brand equipment and talks about how Battle wearing Battle would look real nice. End it with him smiling wearing a Battle mouthpiece.

3. USC Wide Receiver Jordan Addison Signs With Nintendo

For this one, I got inspiration from the Matthew Stafford’s AT&T commercial. It’s well known that last year he was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams and ended up winning the Super Bowl. In that commercial he talks about a trade that was “life changing” when speaking to the store representative about a trade-in. He ends it with winking at the camera as a subtle jab at his former team.

With Addison, there’s not really any bad blood with him and his former team, Pitt. I do think there’s a real opportunity with a Nintendo Switch commercial though. Unlike Stafford who was traded, Addison went to the transfer portal and “switched” schools from Pitt to USC.

The commercial could be him just playing his Nintendo Switch and talking about all the great games they have. He could be talking about what his favorites are and even show maybe he and some teammates racing Mario Kart or playing Super Smash Bros. The goal here is to have him say something like “Switches are the best.” Then have one of his teammates say “Switch huh? Kinda like how you switched from,” and cut him off and go to show prices like they do at the end of most game commercials. This may be a gut punch to some Pitt fans but it would be really funny.

This list is only just a fragment of what I compiled in my research for this topic. Let’s hear your ideal NIL pitch for a former or current player!

Derek Worley

Sports Analyst

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