It really is a tragedy. Five of the first ten players selected in the 2013 NFL draft were offensive lineman. And yet, only one of those men was offered an endorsement deal of any kind. Tackle Eric Fischer—the overall No. 1 2013 draft pick—enjoyed a short partnership with Tide laundry detergent.
So please, contain yourselves. Yes, the NFL’s One Wipe Charlies campaign is about… well… butt wipes, but let an offensive lineman just enjoy a product endorsement deal for a change.[more]
— Tide (@tide) April 24, 2013
Anyone who has read the book (or more likely seen the movie about the book) The Blind Side knows how important offensive lineman have become. They command some of the highest salaries of any NFL position and, in many cases, determine the outcome of games. (Not even Pro Bowl quarterbacks can pass for 300 yards when on their backs.) And yet, offensive linemen enjoy almost no product endorsements, the kind that act as image multipliers and make heroes out of guys whose records may be spotty at best (cough Tim Tebow cough).
Indeed, the last time anyone saw an offensive lineman even get a piece of an A-list endorsement was 2005 when Visa put together a nationally televised US ad campaign featuring the Super Bowl-winning Patriots O-line. Of course, the focus of those ads was quarterback Tom Brady, with the best offensive line in all of football left to be the butts of the joke. In fact, Visa’s official statement about the campaign—”Visa and New England Patriots’ Linemen Team Up to Protect Tom Brady From Fraud”—does not once mention any of the linemen by name. (Meanwhile, “Tom Brady” appears nine times.)
Baltimore Ravens star tackle Michael Oher, the real life protagonist of “The Blind Side” and arguably the most widely known offensive lineman in history, signed a 2010 endorsement deal with discount airline Airtran—for ads in the Baltimore area. But the funny men at Dollar Shave Club have a plan to break O-linemen out of their ad funk.
The company, famous for its cheap, mail-order razors, has hired four NFL centers—Nick Hardwick (San Diego Chargers), John Sullivan (Minnesota Vikings), Travis Frederick (Dallas Cowboys), and Eric Wood (Buffalo Bills)—to endorse One Wipe Charlies, their new brand of wet wipes for men.
And, who better than centers to promote a wet wipe? From the 2010 book “NFL Unplugged: The Brutal, Brilliant World of Professional Football,” Tennessee Titans center Kevin Long recalled:
“It was a fat nasty lineman thing… I thought it was a fart, but it turned out to be a ‘shart.’ It was my first preseason game in the league. My first game with my new teammates. Of course we had to be in our white pants. Someone told me I sat on something and I looked down and said, ‘Ahhh, [s**t].’… I had to run into the toilet and I had to scrub my britches. Welcome to the NFL, kid.”
In a testament to the lack of respect afforded to offensive lineman, Mike Dubin, CEO of Charlies’ parent company Dollar Shave Club, told Ad Age in regards to the endorsement deal, “Let’s say they’re more affordable than the quarterback.” Indeed, players like the headlining Manning brothers “won’t even get out of bed for commercial gigs unless they start in the $75,000 to $100,000 range,” commented Leigh Steinberg, CEO, Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment, according to Ad Age.
The four players will star in in-house produced radio ads for the company, which has a track-record for producing viral hits. Dubin’s knack for saving money extends beyond ad production though; by only signing on four players, the company avoided having to make a deal with the NFL, which would have been too expensive. If the humor behind the campaign wasn’t enough, One Wipe Charlies will also donate $1 to charity for every tweet that mentions the campaign’s tagline, #cleansnap.
— Nick Hardwick (@hardwina) September 17, 2013
Affordable or not, it’s time we let O-linemen enjoy a little time in the spotlight. And if you really want to laugh at a bunch of NFL players endorsing sanitary products, recall that Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys showboating defensive linemen Clay Matthews and DeMarcus Ware joined (then) New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker to promote Depends adult diapers.
Disclosure: The author was an offensive lineman in high school.