Michael Jordan was so transcendent in part because of his complete dominance on the hardwood. However, he wasn’t the first dominant player the sports world has seen and he definitely wasn’t the last. In fact, Tom Brady just matched his accomplishment of six championships in a professional sport this past season. Yet, while Tom Brady is a major star and plays in a sport that is more popular than basketball, at least in the United States, I doubt there is anyone who would argue his marketability is even close to Jordan’s.
So, what separates Jordan from athletes who are arguably just as successful? I’ll admit, in part the difference between the two athletes here is that the NBA is a face-league where as the NFL is not. NFL players wear helmets so they don’t receive the facetime that NBA players do, thus diminishing the potential capacity of their brand.
In this case, this is less of a factor. Tom Brady receives plenty of face time whether it’s in the sports’ media or on the gridiron. No, the difference is not facetime, but charisma. This isn’t a slight at Tom Brady. He’s undoubtedly a charismatic individual, as he seems to be well connected across sports, entertainment, and even politics. The fact is, at least in the 1990s, Michael Jordan was the definition of charisma. He had the “It Factor.”
He was the face of literally everything that was cool. If Michael Jordan was endorsing it, you wanted to have it. Whether it was shoes, t-shirts, or underwear, consumers of all ages wanted a piece.
It is extremely early in the life of Mahomes personal brand. However, I think his charisma and the latest whirlwind of endorsements prove that his brand has the ability to sell products extremely well.
What’s more, even playing for a team that is usually relegated to the darker corners of the media’s limelight, Mahomes has been a mainstay on late-night talk shows, commercials, award shows, you name it. He’s everywhere and he’s incredibly relatable. He seems to have the “It Factor” and this should only increase as he wins more awards and possibly championships.
The Mahomes phenomena is just beginning. It’s easy to forget that, not only is he just entering his third year in the league, he’s also only 23 years of age. With advancements in modern healthcare and professional players’ physical maintenance, quarterbacks are now playing close to and into their 40s. There’s no reason to believe Mahomes can’t accomplish the same feat.
Given that his longevity shouldn’t be of anymore concern than other quarterbacks Mahomes’ brand’s ceiling has endless potential. He’s got the story, he’s got the talent, he’s got the charisma. He has everything an athlete needs to transcend not just their own sport but to be known beyond NFL circles.