A lot of people enjoy fantasy football—some for the comradery and some for the potential winnings. While the popularity is massive among players, you might be surprised how many NFL players have benefited from its success.
“My dad raised me with two core values. One was treasure relationships, especially family and the other was to try and make a meaningful difference in the world and help people who can’t help themselves,” said super-agent, Leigh Steinberg.
Players in the past would try and get fans to know more about them in more conventional ways.
“I saw tremendous idol worship and veneration for athletes, and I thought; if an athlete would re-trace their roots and go back to the high school community to help shape them. They would set up a scholarship fund, help a church, and make a meaningful impact on the field. Then similar things at the collegiate level,” said Steinberg.
“Then at the pro level getting political and community leaders on board to execute a program. Like Warrick Dunn putting 200 single mothers in the first home, they’ve ever known. It’s using the power of professional sports. The value add for the athlete is they get to use their non-athletic skills.”
Fantasy sports make fans of players who aren’t on their favorite teams.
“There is no better fan base than fantasy sport,” Steinberg noted. “These are people only focused on a professional sport. Do a draft, and have a rooting interest in players. So from a branding standpoint and association with that group, It’s wonderful for athletes who want to have closer relationships with a fan base. People get excited about Patrick Mahomes, not necessarily Kansas City fans because he’s on their team.”
With numbers comes opportunity.
“If 40 million people play each week, that’s 40 million people who are clearly crazy about the sport,” Steinberg said connecting the dots. “Athletes can take advantage of that.”
You don’t have to be a star to feel the fantasy bump away from the gridiron.
“It’s the door to recognition for dozens of players who don’t play quarterback who aren’t the biggest stars. It’s their gateway,” Steinberg answered. “Also, NFL team owners take a private interest in the fantasy leagues. Professional sports are an active participant in the expansion of fantasy leagues.”
Leigh Steinberg, premier sports agent, entrepreneur, best-selling author, and CEO of Leigh Steinberg Sports and Entertainment Holdings, is best known for his work building athletes into stand-alone brands. He is often credited as the real-life inspiration for the Oscar-winning film Jerry Maguire. Leigh has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing, and golf, including the number one overall pick in the NFL draft for an unprecedented eight times in conjunction with 62 total first-round picks. With an unrivaled history of record-setting contracts, Leigh has secured over $4 billion for his 300+ pro-athlete clients and directed more than $750 million to various charities around the world.
Over the course of his career, Leigh has been featured on numerous national television programs, including 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, The Today Show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and many more. He has been profiled in a host of magazines, including Business Week, Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, People, Forbes, Playboy, GQ, and FHM. He currently resides in Newport Beach, CA.