MusclePharm signs NFL phenom Johnny Manziel to endorsement contract

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags National football league

Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel
In a sector heavily driven by marketing and celebrity athlete tie-ins, MusclePharm has once again scored big by signing an endorsement deal with Johnny Manziel, the rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.

During stellar college football career with Texas A&M, Manziel became known for his audacious, off-the-cuff style of play and acquired the nickname “Johnny Football.”  Manziel has been the most talked-about quarterback in pro football this preseason even though he has yet to play a down in a regular season pro game.

In his college career Manziel becaming he first freshman and only the fifth player in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a single season.  In 2012 those achievements were rewarded, and Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, the NCAA’s annual award for college football’s most outstanding player. 

Star, or bust?

Observers are strongly divided over whether Manziel can repeat that success at the pro level.  But as far as personal brand recognition is concerned, he is already at the top of the heap.  That, and Manziel’s unquestioned competitiveness are what drew MusclePharm CEO Brad Pyatt (himself a former NFL player) to the deal,  regardless of whether Manziel makes the transition to become a winning pro quarterback.

"Manziel is an electrifying athlete and a proven winner with a rare and dynamic athleticism. His work ethic combined with his relentless competitive drive make him an ideal fit for the MusclePharm brand. We are excited for the future,”​ Pyatt said.

This deal goes with another recent celebrity athlete agreement, this one with Tiger Woods to feature the company’s logo on his golf bag.  That deal points out the risk companies run with this type of agreement.  Woods withdrew from a golf tournament over the weekend after injuring his back and appeared to be in severe pain as he left the course.  Woods has dealt with a number of serious injuries in recent years so there is no telling when he, and MusclePharm’s logo, will be back out on the course. 

Risks or no risks, the strategy seems to be paying off. MusclePharm, based in Denver, CO, also has an agreement with muscle builder/actor/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger on a cobranded line of body building supplements.  The launch of those products earlier this year was highly successful, accounting for 30% of MusclePharm’s total sales.  MusclePharm, based in Denver, markets a complete line of protein powders, preworkout products and supplements.  The company has been growing rapidly.  It reported more than $50 million in earnings in its last quarterly statement, with 123% year-over-year growth. The company's stock price jumped more than 10% after the announcement. The company also reported moving over into profitability for the first time, and reasserted its full-year sales growth guidance at 33%.

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