Johnny Manziel and his No.2 Brown’s quarterback jersey is the National Football League Shop’s top-selling jersey through the first fiscal quarter of the 2014 season. “Johnny Football’s” jersey is the highest a Cleveland Browns player has been on the best-selling list since the league began keeping track of how individual players’ sales were performing back in 2001. The next closest was back in 2007 when then rookie quarterback Brady Quinn, from Notre Dame, went into the season with the second best-selling jersey in the league behind the Chargers LaDainian Tomlinson. Quinn ended up only playing one game that season with a quarterback rating of 56.8, which contributed to his jersey sales dropping to seventeenth by the end of the season.
Manziel is not just a quarterback though. He is a marketing machine for the Cleveland Browns. “Johnny Football” has already accumulated an endorsement portfolio that contends with Peyton Manning’s. McDonald’s and Nissan have already taped commercials with the former Aggie, and even before he was drafted, Nike was already selling products for Manziel. His latest endorsement will have Manziel featured in a Snickers commercial. The commercial is set to be nationally televised before the start of the NFL season even begins, allowing Snickers to build on the hype before the rookie could possibly tarnish his reputation. The Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign has seen other celebrities on the small screen, such as Betty White and Godzilla.
Johnny Manziel’s jersey leads three other established NFL quarterbacks in the top-selling jersey list: the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, and the aforementioned Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. Going further down the list one finds the first defensive player at number five, Richard Sherman of the Seahawks. Sherman was recently revealed to be on the cover of the popular video game franchise Madden NFL 15 and won the ESPY award for “Best Breakthrough Athlete.” Just below Sherman is another defensive player, Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams. Sam became the first openly gay athlete in the National Football League after being drafted 249th in the 214 NFL Draft. He was also recently awarded an ESPY. Sam won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPY awards. Sam’s jersey is the second best-selling rookie jersey overall behind Johnny Manziel’s.
Rounding out the top ten best selling jerseys in the NFL are Tom Brady in seventh, Drew Brees in eighth, Aaron Rodgers in ninth and the Seattle Seahawks “12th Fan” in tenth. The Super Bowl-winning Seahawks had three jerseys in the top-ten and five in the top-twenty best selling jerseys, which is a great achievement and shows the commitment of the fans up in Washington.
The two best selling teams overall are the Seattle Seahawks and the team they played in the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers. Coming in third, largely driven by Johnny Football, is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have only ever finished once in the top-three of jersey sales since the league has kept track in 1979, which was in 1999 when the team came back to Cleveland as an expansion franchise. If Johnny Manziel wants to keep the Browns franchise in the top three, he will need to do more than just lead the NFL in jersey sales, and will have to earn the starting quarterback position from Brian Hoyer in training camp.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash