The news just broke, per ESPN's Adam Schefter: Tim Tebow has signed a marketing deal with Nike for shoes and apparel.
This is unsurprising, given Nike's deep relationship with the University of Florida. But Tebow is also the biggest star in college football -- and has emerged as one of the most marketable and talked-about athletes in the country. Tebow has a legion of die-hard followers and he can be the unique athlete who actually moves product with his endorsement.
Nike had to have him -- and got him, for the bargain price of $300,000 per year. Great fit.
But let's not overlook a much more profound point:
This is unprecedented. It is unprecedented for a rookie coming into the NFL who will, more likely than not, be a 2nd-round pick to get a monster endorsement deal from a Nike. It will be the biggest shoe/apparel deal that any NFL rookie in 2010 will sign. Including Sam Bradford.
But that's not where it ends: Not only will Tebow get the Nike deal, but he will get the EA deal (inevitably), as he will get the Gatorade deal. And that's just the obvious ones. Then there's the vitamin. The watch. The credit card. The automobile.
Tebow will defy the contraction among athlete endorsement deals. The question is when -- not if -- he will crack the Top 5 highest-paid endorsers in the NFL.
And all that while it is still in question whether or not he will take a snap as a starting QB in the NFL -- or more than a handful of snaps in his first year or two. If/when Tebow exceeds those limited expectations, even more money will follow.
But don't pay attention to the draftniks -- for a better estimate of Tebow's relevance to NFL fans and the companies that want to reach them, follow the money.
And if you think that an NFL owner of a struggling team isn't paying at least some attention (and giving some weight) to that when weighing in with his GM, coach and scouting staff, you're naive.