The quarterback matchup in Super Bowl 50 is going to be fierce, with the old guard (Peyton Manning) facing the new one (Cam Newton) in a battle of contrasting styles.
And I’m not just talking about what happens on the field. No, a recent poll among industry insiders by NYSportsJournalism.com named Newton as the most marketable player in the NFL.
That means he’s topping Manning, who led the NFL this season in endorsements with more than $12 million pocketed. That’s no surprise to anyone as we’ve all seen him in spots for Papa John’s, Nationwide, Nike, DirecTV and Buick.
Cam Newton, meanwhile, has signed deals with Under Armor, Dannon Oikos, Gatorade, Microsoft, Beats by Dre, GMC, Drakker Essence, EA Sports and Belk. That doesn’t even account for being the host of Nickelodeon’s upcoming “I Wanna Be,” an adventure-documentary series set to air later this year.
What’s interesting to me is that there has been some consternation in the media about Cam Newton’s actions on the field. Letters to The Charlotte Observer have chided him for dancing in the end zone, pointing after a first down and generally playing against the stereotype of the stoic NFL quarterback.
(Never mind that Aaron Rodgers does the championship belt move after a TD or that JJ Watt screams or that Rob Gronkowski slams the ball to the ground.)
The supposed outrage against Newton is actually small and simply a made-up storyline for Super Bowl week. However, Cam Newton is a new kind of quarterback. One who plays with joy. He is often smiling, high-fiving teammates and giving footballs to the kids lining the end zone stands.
Even though I might have some bias because I live in North Carolina, I ask: How can you not like that?
What Cam Newton means to Millennials.
There’s another part to this, and I don’t mean the race angle that has popped up in some discussions. We’re entering a new age when it comes to demographics. Advertisers are scrambling to understand Millennials, the incoming buying audience.
Like any new generation, its members have their own personality traits. What makes Millennials so different is that they are the first generation to grow up in the iPhone world.
There’s not the space here to go into how today’s world has affected them. But our research demonstrates that Millennials are less judgmental than previous generations and a Cam Newton-style quarterback is more in line with their personalities than the stoic images of Unitas, Montana, Manning and the like.
So, no matter where you stand on the Cam Newton issue today, you’d better get used to it. Cam Newton, the marketable NFL player, is here to stay.