Two young talents in pro sports – one the youngest winner in arguably the biggest event in his sport, while the other a talented champion that has controversy follow him at every turn.
The first: Trevor Bayne, the 20-year old NASCAR overnight sensation, who won the Daytona 500 and became the youngest winner in the race’s history.
The second: Cam Newton, quarterback for the national champion Auburn Tigers. Yet, also a player marred by controversy, from his Dad asking Mississippi State for money, to the alleged theft of a laptop at Florida. There’s also his recent arrogant comments, highlighted in a column by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports.
Yet, Bayne – driver of the number 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing – is still seeking sponsors and has a car about as naked as Dale Jr.’s trophy case. Cam Newton, on the other hand, is already sitting on a seven-figure endorsement deal. A deal that is the largest ever signed by an NFL rookie. This is with the NFL Draft still a few months away.
Someone please explain how this makes one bit of sense.
I don’t claim to be a NASCAR expert, by any means. However, I took it upon myself to research NASCAR sponsorships, and found an interesting writeup on them via How Stuff Works (A Discovery Company).
Regarding Sprint Cup races, How Stuff Works mentioned:
“Being a primary sponsor of a team costs $350,000 to $500,000 per race, although corporations can usually cut a deal to sponsor a team for a full season.”
It’s a hefty chunk of cash, but this is also a 20-year old who has plenty of time to grow. Bayne is also a figure that has been plastered all over the headlines, from SI, to ESPN, to Fox Sports.
Exposure – hello?
“The cost of everything else – driver endorsement deals, stickers, cameras and more – is negotiable.”
The key word is “negotiable”. That’s why I’m at a loss that no one has stepped up to the plate yet.
When you follow Trevor Bayne on his Twitter account, he comes off as a very down to earth kid, with a face that companies would love to put on billboards. Yet, not only has he not managed a sponsor with the Sprint Cup series, he’s also yet to have a sponsor for his Nationwide car.
Cam Newton, on the other hand, has generated a lot of interest among scouts and teams in the NFL. He’s been compared to a number of different quarterbacks, including Ben Roethlisberger (successful) and JaMarcus Russell (train wreck).
Meaning, Cam Newton is far from a sure thing. So why does he deserve a seven-figure endorsement deal? Yet, Trevor Bayne doesn’t deserve to have someone knocking down his door after taking the checkered flag at Daytona?
Look at marketability, which one would assume is one of the excuses for the Newton deal. How can anyone call someone this arrogant marketable? Just look at the QB’s quotables. Newton refers to seeing himself as “an entertainer-slash-icon”.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant but I did something in one year people couldn’t do in their whole collegiate careers,” Newton said to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. “We had a chance to do something great and we did it.”
Too late, Cam – you did sound arrogant. Very arrogant, in fact.
While Newton did have a huge part in Auburn’s success, what about the team’s offensive line or perhaps freshman RB Michael Dyer (who certainly helped defenses take the focus off of Cam)?
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s Bayne. “Winning never really entered my mind,” Bayne said, according to Lars Anderson of Sports Illustrated. “But we just hung around, and then all of a sudden I’m leading the race on the last lap.”
Maybe I need to get hit over the head with a gear shaft for this to make sense.
With marketability off the board, perhaps it’s the risk factor.
Nobody knows if Bayne can continue to have the same success that he showed at Daytona. Then again, no one knows exactly how Newton will pan out at the next level. Each poses a significant amount of risk, as any young athlete does.
Cam Newton may never see the field in the NFL. He could struggle at the combine. Cam could free fall in the draft, or perhaps trouble could find him again. There’s also what could potentially emerge at Auburn, which would certainly tarnish his legacy.
Bayne – on a limited schedule for the second straight year – could easily emerge as a feel-good story and a fan favorite. Another win and fans will desperately be seeking to wear his gear.
That’s why when I stare at the headlines and see a grounded kid like Trevor Bayne without a sponsor, I can’t help but wonder just how flawed the system really is.
In a sports landscape where each and every sponsorship or endorsement comes with a hefty price tag, how is it that Cam Newton can emerge with the dough, while Trevor Bayne instead sits with the proverbial flat tire?
Apparently, the gurus out there think the family folk at home want to buy their kids products that an accused thief – but one heck of a talented accused thief – would wear, instead of the feel-good story that everyone so desires to be.
This may be the reality in sports today. But bet your bottom dollar, the common fan is rooting harder for Trevor Bayne to be a success story.
And if that’s not true, then I’ll gladly take a whack from that gear shaft again.
Disclaimer: As I’ve mentioned, I’m by no means a NASCAR expert. Therefore, If I’m missing an important factor regarding NASCAR sponsorships, I’d love to learn about it, so please feel free to chime in. Educate me before you tear me apart – and thanks for reading.