Tom Brady earned a record-shattering $9.5 million in NFLPA-negotiated deals
Tom Brady is considered by many the “G.O.A.T” for his seven Super Bowl rings. The amazing story of getting drafted in such a late round and for his incredible on-field performance.
Off the field, for most of his career, he ceded the marketing laurels to players like Peyton Manning, who routinely during their overlapping playing careers earned substantially more off the field.
Not anymore. Brady has never been more popular based on how much merchandise is sold bearing his name and likeness. According to the National Football League Players Association annual report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Buccaneers quarterback earned $9.5 million in group licensing and marketing income in the 12 months that ended Feb. 28.
To put that figure into perspective, rarely has a player cracked $4 million in the two decades the union has been required to file the document publicly.
And the closest competitor in the latest report is Patrick Mahomes at $3.3 million through his 2PM, LLC company.
The figures encompass all group licensing, which are deals for multiple players negotiated through the NFLPA. So jerseys, video games and trading cards fall into this category. Brady gets paid royalties based on how many of his jerseys and trading cards are sold for example.
“He’s the GOAT in more ways than one,” an NFLPA official, who requested anonymity because he did not want to comment on specific players, wrote in a text.
“Has turned on that part of his business post-Patriots.” Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing executive with Pinnacle Advertising, said Brady’s allure to brands is summed up by the three Ps: performance, personality and perseverance.
Brady has been a star now for over two decades, but only after leaving the Patriots in 2020 did he let his marketing hair down, so to speak, scooping up endorsements and getting active on social media. “He’s much more of a social media animal,” Dorfman said.
“He’s much more aggressive in terms of marketing himself, and all his products and everything else he does off the field. And he’s a charismatic guy.”
Also, Brady’s temporary February retirement could have sparked a run on merchandise bearing his name, Dorfman speculated.
In a February statement touting the top 50 group licensing sellers among NFL players, the NFLPA wrote, “Licensed product across hardline, apparel, digital and unconventional categories include items such as: game jerseys, T-shirts, hoodies, bobbleheads, plush toys, socks, face coverings, headbands, figurines, wall decals, backpacks, pennants, photos, drinkware, pet products and many more.”
The anonymous NFLPA official also cited autographs as a big category.
The February release described Brady and Mahomes as residing on top of the rankings, which covered a smaller period than the data contained in the annual report. The statement didn’t note the vast gulf between Brady and the rest of the pack.
In the annual report, Mahomes is second, and a player who filed under the business name MMBOC LLC took in $3.3 million. MMBOC is registered in Florida, but its filings with the secretary of state list only an agent and not who owns the company. So it could not be determined which player this is.
Others are easy to figure out (Brady is listed under T.E.B. Capital Management and its filings have disclosed Brady’s name). After the mysterious MMDOC, the fourth spot with $1.9 million, according to the annual report, is Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, who is listed under his name and not a corporate moniker. Wilson ranked 43rd on the list the NFLPA put out this winter.
Some of the discrepancy is likely chalked up to different time periods, with the annual report covering three extra months. Wilson, for example, received a $465,660 royalty payment on Feb. 18, long past the period covered by the NFLPA release. But also the labor department requires unions in tabulating the figures in the annual reports to use cash accounting, meaning the figures reflect money already paid, not owed.
After Wilson is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at $1.8 million, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and 49ers presumed starting quarterback Trey Lance at around $1.5 million, according to the NFLPA filing. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and Bears quarterback Justin Fields came in at roughly $1.4 million each, according to the report, which is known as an LM-2.
The first non-QB, setting aside MMBOC, is Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith, whose corporation is named Sweet6. He took in $1.3 million in his rookie year.
What about Manning, who for years after his retirement still dominated the group licensing rankings culled from the NFLPA report? Well, that trend appears to be over. In the latest report, Manning, who filed under Peydirt, earned $875,000 in group licensing income, still better than all but a dozen and a half or so players, but off from his top perch in past years.
The figures in the NFLPA report do not include individual endorsements outside of group licensing. So Brady’s Subway deal is not reflected as an example. According to Forbes, Brady earns $52 million annually in endorsements, meaning the group licensing reflects less than 20 percent of his marketing haul.
Could anything hinder the golden boy of NFL marketing, like his embrace of market plunging cryptocurrency? Brady has equity in crypto trading platform FTX, which he has promoted in ads, and his Twitter profile shows him with laser eyes, an alteration many Bitcoin backers make on their social media pages.
Dorfman said that though celebrity endorsers of crypto have suddenly clammed up, Brady’s image won’t take a hit.
“The fact that he was an early adopter to that kind of adds to more of his marketing power even though it’s kind of fallen off,” Dorfman said. “I don’t know how it may affect his net worth. I don’t think it’s going to affect his marketability.”