The most popular video game franchise of late, Call of Duty, will release its newest addition, entitled Black Ops III, later this year. For those who don’t know about Call of Duty, I pity you. It is one of only 15 video game franchises that has sold 100+ million copies. This places Call of Duty among the ranks of the Mario, Super Mario, and Pokémon video game franchises. In addition to new features, and setting world records, this edition of Black Ops will also contain something never before seen in first-person shooter games: professional athlete endorsements.
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will star as a celebrity character in the upcoming video game; he will represent one of the main villains. Lynch's body movements have even been recorded to enhance user gameplay; it is doubtful he will incorporate all forms of communication and speech into his new role. However, one can safely assume Skittles will make a brief appearance in Black Ops III, if not at least some advertisements.
While we can only guess how much Activision Blizzard (ATVI), the producer of Black Ops III, has paid Lynch for his endorsement, it's safe to say the company has opened the floodgates for other colorful personalities. With a new emphasis on health, and avoiding injuries, professional athletes are beginning to look elsewhere for supplemental income. Given the meteoric rise of concussion awareness, specifically within the NFL, more pros are looking for ways to retire as soon as possible. With early retirees like Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, and Anthony Davis (notice the 49ers theme) citing concussions as a major NFL drawback, athletes must now develop their brands prior to retirement.
Rob Gronkowski recently stunned journalists by claiming that he has yet to spend a cent of his NFL salary. Instead, Gronkowski has thrived off of endorsement deals. By saving and investing the $16.3 million he's earned to date, Gronkowski has set himself up for a comfortable post-NFL lifestyle. It's hard to imagine Gronkowski will end up bankrupt like his many NFL predecessors (I’m looking at you, Warren Sapp).
Maybe we can actually learn a valuable lesson from these “dumb jocks who play football for a living." Although most professional athletes have no idea how to handle their money, many are doing their best to help fund retirement. Although it's more lucrative to play in the NFL, professionals from all athletic backgrounds have decided to place their health, and well-being, over money. And that's quite respectable.