Celebrity status and earnings are usually linked, which is why it makes sense that NFL players are once again dominated by pro baseball and basketball players in Sports Illustrated’s newest “Fortune 50″ — a “compilation of the 50 top-earning American athletes by salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees.”
Back in May, we pointed out that only two pro football players — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — made the latest Forbes Celebrity 100 list, which wasn’t surprising but still a tad eye-opening when you consider that 17 other pro athletes made the cut.
Thirty-six NBA and MLB players made this year’s Fortune 50, while only eight football players got through. Interestingly, that number dropped off from 14 in 2010.
And if anything, the NFL has for years been over-represented on lists like these. While Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady deserve to be in the top 10 (they’re ranked fourth, eighth and ninth, respectively), Sam Bradford (12th) and Mark Sanchez (38th) only make the list because of the league’s outlandish and out-of-control informal rookie salary format.
Last year, for instance, guys like Matthew Stafford, Jason Smith and Tyson Jackson were on the list almost entirely based on their first-year salaries and bonuses. No players of similar ilk from other pro sports leagues were included.
Football is the ultimate team sport. Individual performances take a back seat, the players wear helmets with bars that partially cover their faces and a career can end with one big hit and sharp turn. These things scare advertisers away. That’s why baseball and basketball stars get all the love from endorsers, leaving football players not named Peyton or Tom fighting for scraps.
According to SI, Manning is making $15 million a year from endorsements; Brady’s making $10 million. Ryan only makes the top 10 because he’s due to earn a $22 million roster bonus in 2011, which would make him the highest-paid player in the game for one year (they project that he’ll only bring in about $450,000 by way of endorsements).
Bradford and Darrelle Revis (who’s ranked 14th) also make less than $500,000 through endorsements. The only other two NFL players on the list who are millionaire endorsers: the two New York quarterbacks, Sanchez ($2.5 million) and Eli Manning ($7 million).
Here’s a look at the eight NFL players on this year’s list:
4. Peyton Manning: $38,007,000
8. Matt Ryan: $32,700,000
9. Tom Brady: $30,007,280
12. Sam Bradford: $27,250,000
14. Darrelle Revis: $25,750,000
38. Mark Sanchez: $17,750,000
39. Darnell Dockett: $17,675,000
47. Eli Manning: $16,000,000