The NFL and the Olympic movement have had several crossover stars throughout the years…Willie Gault, Jim Thorpe, Bob Hayes among others have excelled in both athletics and football.
Now Sanya Richards Ross and Holly Mangold have never ventured to the NFL gridiron in recent years as players, but Brand NFL helped give both some added pop as they ventured to the Olympic stage in London this weekend. Make no mistake, Richards Ross and Mangold have certainly earned their keep and deserve all the accolades they have gotten. However their relationships with two prominent NFL stars…Ross married to two time Super Bowl champion now turned Jacksonville Jaguar Aaron Ross, Mangold the sister of New York Jets Pro Bowl offensive lineman Nick Mangold…has certainly helped draw even more casual viewers to their efforts across the pond.
Ross was in the Olympic Stadium for his wife’s competition…prompting Jags coach Mike Mullarkey to take the team and over 1,000 fans into Stadium to watch her go for gold on the big screen at Everbank Stadium and drawing support from all around. A great shared experience between athletics and the NFL.
Now the Mangold shared experience played out for several days in the New York media as coach Rex Ryan encouraged his star to skip practice and join his sister in her special quest, one which he had resisted in doing until the last minute. Mangold went and supported his sister, much to the delight of the team and the support of the media. NFL lifts even competitive weight lifting it seems.
So what does this mean exactly? Richards Ross has garnered some great brand support on her own…especially through USOC sponsor Citi...but athletics, or track, still falls into the abyss after the Olympics every four years. maybe an extra boost from her NFL crossover attracts a joint sponsorship, or extra grassroots support, to help her gain more attention for her charitable and business endeavors after London, where she became a gold medalist. For Mangold, still maturing in her weightlifting career, maybe it means extra training dollars and more media attention which could also lead to some fun brand campaigns with her brother.
End of the day, the NFL machine helped bring more attention to a pair of very deserving athletes and may help differentiate them from others during the post-Olympic scramble for brand partners. Both are unique stories with great ties to the NFL at a time when the NFL brand is coming front and center in the spotlight. A rising tide can lift not just the NFL boat, but those for track and maybe weightlifting as well.