The Deification of RGIII: "I mean, that’s a storybook, man."

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When I think about Robert Griffin III (read about him in this SBPDL Classic: Black Men Can’t Throw), the no. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the words Joe Biden used to describe Barack Obama comes directly to mind:
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
RGIII: A New Black Quarterback Hope

Okay, so Robert Griffin III is the second “mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Griffin (known as RGIII) won the 2012 Heisman Trophy largely due to an aggressive campaign waged by ESPN in promoting the “next Black hope” at the quarterback position. Like Obama, he appears to be a nice, articulate, bright, clean (though he should probably cut the “thug”-like dreads), nice-looking guy” that the primarily white NFL fan-base can cheer on.

At the very least, he won’t get caught raising and fighting pit bulls like Michael Vick.

Somewhere, Rush Limbaugh (with his dead-on criticism of the NFL, Donovan McNabb, and the media’s desire to find a Black quarterback worth praising) is smiling, with the deification of RGIII reaching levels that perfectly validate his deft analysis of the white-guilt a-thon over Black quarterbacks:
The battle between No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck and the guy who was selected right behind him, Robert Griffin III, hits the field today as the Indianapolis Colts play the Washington Redskins.

But how do the two shape up off the field?

As anyone who has been watching sports TV can tell, RG3 is everywhere. Luck? Not so much.

RG3 struck a nontraditional deal with Castrol Motor Oil for the NFL draft and already had a deal to be on the cover of Electronic Arts’ “NCAA Football 13.”

The Redskins quarterback’s most visible endorsement is Subway, thanks to his presence in the company’s nonstop ads. RG3’s deal is probably as good for him as it is for the company, as there are now more Subways than any other restaurants in the country (yes, more than McDonald’s).

His biggest deal is his contract with adidas, whose strategy is to sign select game-changers because it clearly isn’t in the same business as Nike, which seems to collect players.

RG3 marketing guy Mark Heligman is mum on the actual terms, but sources tell me that the last time adidas struck a rookie deal as large as this one it was with Reggie Bush. Adidas is surely hoping things are different this time around.

One thing adidas has going for it is that when you think RG3, you think socks (he famously wore Superman socks with capes on them to the Heisman ceremony). Although not a huge business, the performance sock category is growing.

RG3 also has a deal with Gatorade. It originally was supposed to be a one-off deal, but I’m told the people at Gatorade were so impressed with him that they signed him to something larger, which allowed the PepsiCo brand to roll out a new TV spot a couple of weeks ago. Some in the industry were caught off guard because Gatorade already has Cam Newton on its endorsement roster.

RG3 also signed a deal with EvoShield, a body armor company. As this niche has grown, companies like EvoShield and its competitor, Unequal, have gone after mobile quarterbacks in RG3 and Michael Vick (Unequal). The growing market allows for these marketable QBs to take deals in exchange for a piece of the company. Of course, the guys have to wear the gear for it to mean anything. Unequal said Vick wasn’t wearing its gear when he got bruised last week.

RG3’s last endorsement signed was with Nissan, which already started using him in magazine ads associated with its Heisman winners campaign.

Overall, marketers have been extremely impressed with Griffin’s poise in satellite interviews (he’s great at remembering brand message points) and in commercial shoots. That’s why he has earned more than any other rookie in NFL history before throwing his first regular-season pass.

Thus far, Griffin is 1-1 as a starter for the Washington Redskins. Based on the investment corporations have made in RG3, it should be obvious that a combination of Joe Biden’s accurate description of Barack Obama (finally, a clean Black guy!) and Rush Limbaugh’s even more accurate description of the Black quarterbacks (“Sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go,” Limbaugh said. “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”) is transpiring.
To quote Biden, the RG3 story is truly:”I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”


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