After Super Bowl XLVIII, who are the real winners and losers? by Bill Frederick

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (February 6, 2014). Over 111.5 million sports fans around the world watched the Broncos and the Seahawks square off in Super Bowl XLVIII. The scoreboard declared the Seattle Seahawks the winner over the Denver Broncos, 43-8. But, only time will tell who among the participants is prepared for what’s next.

A few players will be catapulted into more fame and fortune, while others will fade into obscurity. Some, despite the pain of losing, have a history of success and enshrinement in the Hall of Fame ahead of them. For most athletes, however, public adulation and super paychecks are short-lived. An average career lifespan is 10 years; roughly three for NFL players. Whether because of aging or injury, poor performance, public fickleness, or troubled behavior, thousands of celebrities return to mundane lives and limited resources or worse. Before an athlete reaches the age of 30, he or she needs a reality check on who they really are and what they’re going to do for the next 50 years. 

How can a player keep the good times going? According to Don E. N. Gibson, co-founder of the celebrity branding firm Brandtheon, athletes need to prepare for a productive afterlife by building a genuine personal brand while they are at their peak of athletic prowess and public awareness.

“Although he wasn’t selected the game’s MVP, Russell Wilson will likely receive numerous lucrative endorsement opportunities due to the position he plays, his superlative play throughout the game, poise that belies his age, and good looks, But endorsements are only one aspect of building a brand that will grow in value,“ said Gibson. “Wilson’s exposure positions him to create, own and control something tangible for the long term. Similarly, the members of the ‘Legion of Boom’ lived up to their moniker on the game’s biggest stage, and with a brand development plan, can capitalize on their success for many years to come,” Gibson added.

According to Gibson, “Over the last two decades, increasing numbers of competitors in the major sports are engaging in a thought process to devise strategies that are forward-looking: They are earning that they are in fact ‘brands’ and what it means to take charge. If they embrace this fact and implement a holistic game plan, they will be rewarded with significant financial and social benefits during and after their playing days.”

People’s fascination with sports heroes generates opportunities for income and influence that are not available to mere mortals.

“Building a personal brand is like using a GPS system to efficiently and accurately get you where you want to go,” said Gibson. “An athlete can develop authority, live their values, have a recognized identity, and take ownership of his or her future.”

The personal brand phenomenon is spreading. Athletes with powerful identities bring considerable value to teams, causes, businesses, and events. Those who work tirelessly on their brand get results. Greg Norman, Venus Williams, John Elway, Magic Johnson, Tony Hawk, David Beckham, Michael Jordon and Shaun White, have gone beyond marketability to having enduring impact on industries and society beyond sports. Products, real estate, franchises, wineries, merchandise, clothing, services, and venues are a few of their successful endeavors.

A growing aspect of successful branding is the wave of athletes seeking trademark protection for a name, phrase, slogan, or gesture with which they are identified. “Linsanity,” Tebowing,” “Kaepernicking,” and “Beast Mode” are recent examples. Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, Colin Kaepernick and Marshawn Lynch realize that protecting intellectual property affects brand integrity as well as future earnings.

Creating, managing and protecting powerful brands in the sports world is something Gibson and Brandtheon’s co-founders, Todd Radom and Bill Frederick, have proven track records in accomplishing. Gibson’s background includes leadership positions as an attorney and business executive with Major League Baseball, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Dreier Sports Opportunities, and Kavi Sports & Entertainment. Todd Radom has created the graphic identities for multiple professional sports franchises and events, including the Super Bowl. And, the branding programs and celebrity identity packages developed by Bill Frederick include work for every major American professional sports league as well as for legends such as Dale Earnhardt and Yogi Berra.

To avoid the identity crisis and financial insecurity that comes with competitors thinking their life (not just their sports career) peaked in their 20s, athletes need the right branding, financial, and legal guidance. If these high net-worth individuals employ the same strategies as those used by corporate brands, they can realize their dreams and iconic status as business owners, innovators and community leaders.


Brandtheon is a celebrity brand development and management firm that helps athletes and entertainers create enduring personal brands that generate long-term commercial and social value.

Contact: Don Gibson
(480) 550-1930  •  don.gibson@brandtheon.com