The top ranking NFL players in terms of endorsements during the 2021 season were: Rob Gronkowski, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Russell Wilson, and Travis Kelce. Each player has over 25 brand deals; Gronk leads the way with 30 deals leveraging his 8.7 million social followers. He ranked #7 among NFL athletes for most social followers. Gronk has starred in commercials for T-Mobile alongside longtime teammate, Tom Brady. He also has appeared in a Wolf & Shepherd commercial and USAA. Although having the most deals, the highest average engagement per post comes from rival tight end, Travis Kelce, who has a 4.33% avg engagement compared to Gronk’s .78%. Russell Wilson leads the group in total engagement with over 3 million likes/shares.
Over 1,000 brands had endorsement deals with NFL players during the 2021 season, a big uptick from 2020 seeing a 51% increase. The most active brands partnering with players were Verizon, adidas, BodyArmor, Nike, and Bud Light, while the fastest growing categories were Apparel, Technology and Financial.
The average engagement per branded post for players was 12.6K compared to the slightly higher engagement for teams with 14.5K. For players with a minimum of 10 branded posts, the average engagement was 16K, inferring that the most active NFL athletes are getting more engagement on posts than teams.