Hakeem Nicks signs with Roc Nation Sports

Hakeem-Nicks-GiantsRoc Nation Sports added another talented athlete to its growing list on Thursday, as the agency announced that it has signed New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Victor Cruz, Nicks’ teammate, was one of the first big names to sign with Jay-Z’s agency last year. Like Cruz, Nicks will be represented by both Roc Nation and CAA.

Not long after signing with Roc Nation, Cruz was able to land a five-year, $43 million contract extension with the Giants. That type of money would be a stretch for Nicks, who did not catch a touchdown during the 2013 season. He has only missed a handful of games in the past three years, but Nicks always seems to be battling some sort of nagging injury.

At age 26, Nicks will certainly be able to find a few teams who are willing to take a chance on his less-than-stellar resume. He hauled in 155 passes for more than 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and there is no denying that the former North Carolina star has as much raw talent as any receiver in the league.

In all likelihood, Nicks won’t be returning to the Giants. They already have a lot of money invested at the wide receiver position and reportedly had to fine him multiple times last season. A divorce seems inevitable, but Nicks should be well represented when he hits the open market.

H/T Darren Rovell

Marshawn Lynch signs endorsement deal with Skittles

Marshawn-Lynch-SkittlesSeattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been providing Skittles with millions of dollars in free publicity for years. In 2011, cameras captured Lynch eating Skittles on the sideline after he scored a touchdown. The tradition apparently started when his mother would give him Skittles after he scored touchdowns when he was younger.

Since Lynch was first seen eating Skittles, the chewy little candies have become a symbol of success for the Seahawks. The team serves them along with its “Beast Mode” burger and fans have been showering players in Skittles after touchdowns. On Tuesday, Lynch finally signed an endorsement deal with Skittles.

According to ESPN, Lynch will receive financial compensation and the company will donate $10,000 to his charity for every touchdown he scores in the Super Bowl. Skittles has also created a limited edition package called “Seattle Mix,” which includes only blue and green candies.

As Darren Rovell pointed out, Skittles could still be getting a bargain by signing Lynch to a deal. Media monitoring company Kantar Media told Ad Age last week that Lynch’s presence in the Super Bowl could be worth as much as $5 million for the company. Supermarkets in the Seattle area have also reported that they run short on Skittles on home game weekends.

If Lynch’s love for Skittles has inspired insane creations like the “Beast Mode” sausage, the power back should be receiving at least some financial compensation.

Richard Sherman’s Beats by Dre commercial comes at perfect time (Video)

Could Beats by Dre have possibly hoped for a better result than what it’s received in terms of marketing over the past few weeks? First off, the high-end headphone company got a huge boost by having the San Francisco 49ers win their divisional playoff game to set up a meeting with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. Their most notable endorser in the NFL to that point was 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has made the headphones a huge part of his pre and post-game ensemble. The company received extra publicity after Kaepernick was criticized for his style of dress following the Niners’ playoff win over the Carolina Panthers, where he had a backwards cap on and the headphones around his neck. Though Kaepernick was called out for looking unprofessional, he was defended by his coach.

Jim Harbaugh gave Beats by Dre a nice plug when he said he liked the commercial and that it accurately portrayed the environment for a road team arriving to a visitor’s stadium.

As if all the publicity from the 49ers/Kaepernick/Harbaugh wasn’t enough, the company got a second major boost from Richard Sherman. Beats by Dre dropped the Richard Sherman commercial last week on the day of the NFC Championship Game. And what happened? Sherman made the play of the game and then became the biggest story of the week after going on his postgame rant. Fast forward a week later, and Sherman, who will now be one of the most well known players playing in the big game, is a central part of Beats By Dre’s marketing plan. Things seriously could not have worked out better.

You see a lot of companies essentially put bets down on teams or players when they do marketing campaigns. Think about State Farm and their Aaron Rodgers commercials. They’re hoping that the Green Bay Packers will continue winning throughout the playoffs, because that makes Rodgers more influential as a spokesman/representative. When the Packers lose in the first round of the playoffs, it hurts them because we’re now seeing commercials for a player sitting at home.

But with Beats by Dre, they absolutely hit the lottery. And what reminded me of this is that Beats has a big ad campaign up on ESPN.com. Who’s better than Sherman right now to advertise a product with an edge? He’s the perfect guy, and he’s certainly someone who makes you pay attention. His commercial, which is centered around him using his headphones to block out the media, could not be more relevant.

Beats by Dre ESPN

CC Sabathia signs with Jay-Z’s sports agency

Jay-Z CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia is now a part of “La Familia.”

The New York Yankees ace has signed with Jay-Z’s sports agency — Roc Nation Sports — both parties announced via Twitter on Thursday night:

Once you get past the velvet drapes, candles and Starbursts, you have to wonder how much Jay-Z will be able to do for CC. Sabathia is signed with the Yankees for the next three seasons and has an option for 2017.

I can’t imagine Sabathia signed in Jan. 2014 to gear up for his big free agency push in 2016. Maybe Jay-Z has some marketing plans for the big guy.

Sabathia now joins Robinson Cano as baseball players signed with Jay-Z. Their other sports clients include Kevin Durant, Victor Cruz and Geno Smith. There are a lot of athletes with New York ties there.

Notre Dame switching from adidas to Under Armour

Notre Dame Under Armour

Notre Dame is switching equipment brands from adidas to Under Armour for all its sports teams, according to a report.

The Fighting Irish decided to shop around after its 10-year deal with adidas expired, and the change will happen at the end of the school year, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

Notre Dame first struck a deal with adidas in 1997. The sides reached a 10-year extension in 2005 that expires this school year. Notre Dame apparently used to be adidas’ top program, but that changed when they signed Michigan in 2008.

Adding Notre Dame is a huge move for Under Armour, which already outfits Auburn, Hawaii, Maryland, Texas Tech, Boston College, Utah, Northwestern, St. John’s, South Florida and South Carolina, among other colleges.

Though they are a relative newcomer in the sports apparel industry, Under Armour has already gained a huge market share and become a major player. Founded in 1996, the company is publicly traded and reported revenues of $1.83 billion in 2012.

Johnny Manziel reportedly picks agent, will have Maverick Carter do his marketing

Johnny Manziel hasn’t officially declared for the NFL draft yet, but he reportedly has picked his representation.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Manziel has chosen Houston-based Select Sports Group to represent him for his contract talks. He also has picked LRMR, which is the firm run by LeBron James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, for his marketing.

Manziel was at the Miami Heat-Golden State Warriors game last week and hung out with Carter. The Heisman Trophy winner has also developed a friendship with James.

LeBron James Johnny Manziel

In an interview with “The Dan Patrick Show” last month, Manziel says he texted with LeBron daily to get through some of the difficulties in his life, such as the autograph controversy.

“Everyone was coming after me and there was so much criticism,” Manziel said. “I feel like LeBron deals with that every single day of his life.”

Manziel is viewed as a likely first-round pick if he leaves for the draft. Many believe he will be a top-10 pick and possible selection for the Houston Texans, who have the first overall pick and have expressed a willingness to trade down.

Photo: Instagram/JManziel2

Chad Johnson says he’ll buy remaining Bengals playoff tickets to avoid blackout

chad-ochocincoThe most underrated storyline in sports this week has to be the lack of sellouts for playoff games across the NFL. As of Thursday morning, the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers — I know, right? — still had tickets available for their upcoming playoff games. The teams are hoping to avoid a television blackout by selling out. According to Chad Johnson, the Bengals don’t have to worry about it.

Earlier this week, Johnson tweeted that he’ll buy any unsold tickets from his former team if a sellout is not achieved before Sunday.

At the time Johnson made the comment, Reedy noted that he would need close to $1 million to buy the remaining tickets. That figure has likely gone down since Tuesday, but does the artist formerly known as Ochocinco have that kind of money to be throwing around anymore?

Johnson may go out to eat with fans from time to time and pick up the tab, but don’t expect him to keep this promise. The hope is that the Bengals sell out anyway. If you can’t sell out a playoff game, you’re doing something wrong.

H/T Eye on Football