The 2014 National Football Season is over but there is still a lot to talk about now that the action on the field is complete. New stars such as Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will bask in the glory of hoisting up the Vince Lombardi trophy. However, the talk that surrounded one Richard Sherman coming into the Super Bowl is yet another major example of how important branding has become within the entertainment world.
After the NFC Championship game where Sherman’s Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers Sherman became even more famous than his play on the field. In three years Sherman has put together a laundry list of accolades that have helped him to be considered one of the best defensive players in the game. Even though he is one of few players to have 20 interceptions in just three years of play and a number of other statistical feats; Sherman has become known for being a character that isn’t well liked by a majority of the viewing public.
It’s the cultivation of that dislike in professional sports that is becoming a major financial tool for athletes across many different sports.
All it took was a few moments for Sherman to become the most hated individual person in sports today. When asked a simple question by sports personality Erin Andrews, Sherman went on a spirited tirade about his position in sports and challenging those who would challenge him. In a world of five second delays and unintelligent speakers, Sherman dove deep into his on the field personality while not portraying himself in an ignorant or unintelligent fashion. The Internet was set ablaze by his actions which spread into the sports media world and beyond. While the conversation points may have been disheartening, the fact remains that those actions catapulted Richard Sherman into a position where he’s going to benefit from the hatred of the public.
In 2013 Sherman was paid $555,000 in a year where he played every game this season, had 8 interceptions and 49 combined tackles. Yet, his contract still placed him in a position where 110 cornerbacks would make more money this season. In fact, there are some that make more PER GAME than Sherman will make all year. While $555,000 is nothing to scoff at; it’s still worth nothing in an industry where athletes are taught to make as much as possible in their short career spans. So what value did Sherman’s tirade bring to his wealth?
According to CNN Money, those 15 seconds of infamy could equate to nearly $5 million in opportunities for Sherman. The piece published on January 24 highlights comments from Sherman’s agent Jamie Fritz about pending endorsements that would be coming his player’s way. Fifteen seconds would help Sherman earn more than he had during his whole professional career.
Becoming the consummate bad guy after yelling at Erin Andrews will open up numerous opportunities that the athlete may not have seen otherwise. Other athletes have found similar success by playing the bad guy in the public spectrum. This doesn’t mean that said individual commits crimes or is caught in negative situations. Instead, the general hatred that the public has about them keeps said individual in the limelight long enough that companies begin to take notice.
UFC fighter Ronda Rousey is in a similar situation where she’s become one of the promotion’s biggest draw simply because fans have come to hate her. She is also set to appear in two of the biggest action movies of 2014 and 2015. Floyd Mayweather is another example of an athlete who capitalizes from the public’s hatred of their success. In his most recent fight against Saul Alvarez helped him net a guaranteed $41.5 million and that doesn’t include the back end money from Pay per View buys. Both of these examples of financial growth stem directly from successful athletes being despised by the public who hate to see them succeed.
This isn’t a strategy that works for everyone. Athletes who are caught in negative situations that are of a criminal nature shouldn’t be flip towards their actions and the public’s reaction. However, those who are disliked because of success could take that opportunity to build their career into something stronger than it may originally become. An effective manager can help guide that growth while showing the client how to responsibly capitalize on their sudden position.
Richard Sherman, Floyd Mayweather and Ronda Rousey are three examples of athletes that will earn a wealth of money simply because fans don’t like them. They may not have done anything overtly wrong; but smart sports promotion has placed them in a financial zone that they may not have seen otherwise.