Two young talents in pro sports – one becomes the youngest winner in arguably the biggest event in his sport, while the other is a talented champion that also 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.


Trevor Bayne celebrated a win at Daytona, but is still seeking sponsors.

The second: Cam Newton, quarterback for the national champion Auburn Tigers, but also a player marred by controversy, from his Dad asking Mississippi State for money, to the alleged theft of a laptop at Florida, to his most recent arrogant comments, as 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 – while Cam Newton is already sitting on a seven-figure endorsement deal, the largest ever signed by an NFL rookie – and the NFL Draft is 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, and the world of racing is one I’m looking to learn more about as the year passes.  With that in mind, 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, and one that has been plastered all over the headlines, from Sports Illustrated, 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”, and 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 up on billboards.  Yet, not only has he not managed a sponsor with the Sprint Cup series, but also he’s yet to have a sponsor for his Nationwide car.


Meanwhile, Cam Newton is already celebrating a seven-figure endorsement deal (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

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 the likes of Ben Roethlisberger (successful) to JaMarcus Russell (trainwreck).

Meaning, Cam Newton is far from a sure thing, so why does he deserve a seven-figure endorsement deal and 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 would be one of the excuses for the Newton deal.  How can anyone call someone this arrogant marketable?  Look at the QB’s quotables, where Newton referred 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 most certainly helped defenses take the focus off of Cam at times)?

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, but 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.


WIFE SPEAK: THE WIFE doesn’t share the same opinion. “NASCAR isn’t a sport where kids get the chance to prove themselves in high school or college. Newton has been given opportunities to prove his talent even though you don’t know how he ‘s going to perform in the big leagues (she means the NFL). It makes sense investors/companies would be more willing to take a risk on him.”

Cam Newton may never see the field in the NFL, or he could struggle at the combine, freefall in the draft, or perhaps trouble could find him again.  There’s also what could potentially reemerge 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 – with fans that would 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, whether a NASCAR fan or not.

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.

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