Joe Montana and John Elway are Super Bowl legends. They led their teams to the championship game a combined nine times, winning six. (They faced off in Super Bowl XXIV with Montana's San Francisco 49ers, blowing out Elway's Denver Broncos 55-10.)
But these two gridiron stars have continued their success long after the final whistle blew on their playing careers. They parlayed their reputations as winners into current endorsement deals with companies like Coors, Novartis and TAP Pharmaceutical, maker of Prevacid. In 2004, Bassett Furniture teamed up with Elway to launch a line of furniture called Elway Home.
Montana and Elway aren't the only quarterbacks from the 1980s and 1990s to find post-play career success. Many of their fellow Super Bowl QBs are broadcasters for NFL games or do studio shows, including Troy Aikman, Boomer Esiason, Dan Marino, Phil Simms and Steve Young. In addition to his studio work for Time Warner's HBO and CBS, Marino has endorsement deals with several companies, including Pfizer and Samsung. He also plugs the Marino Recovery System, a line of pillows and mattresses from Sleep Innovations.
Despite the NFL's immense popularity, most football players typically come up short, compared with athletes in other sports, when it comes to endorsements. The knock against football players has been that fans don't know their faces since they are covered by helmets, so they rarely get the multitude of national endorsement deals that athletes like LeBron James and Tiger Woods get. But quarterbacks have often been the exception to this rule. They are viewed as leaders, and today the NFL's biggest endorsers include quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick.
Manning is currently the highest-paid football player off the field, pulling in roughly $7 million a year from PepsiCo's Gatorade, Reebok and Visa (he is also the highest paid for his work on the field, with an average salary of $14 million a year). But even his endorsement income, which is more than double what the other top QBs get, doesn't put him in the top 25 among athletes in all sports when it comes to sponsorship earnings. And it is just a fraction of the $80 million that Woods pulls in each year from his corporate deals.
Who will emerge as a corporate darling from this year's Super Bowl? Critics are saying the game lacks star power. The most famous player in the game is Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, but he's likely to retire after Sunday's game. Seattle running back Shaun Alexander was the NFL's Most Valuable Player this year, but he is virtually anonymous outside of the Pacific Northwest and fantasy football teams.
Once again, look for the quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Hasselbeck, to emerge as the long-term stars with corporate America. Hasselbeck has small deals with a handful of companies, including Reebok and Qwest Communications. Roethlisberger already has a seven-figure endorsement income thanks to deals with Nike and several regional contracts. Both QBs would see their off-field income soar with a Super Bowl win, and business opportunities would continue to open up long after their playing days are over.