Area man sells naming rights to fantasy football team

November 5, 2013

 

My pal Dave McKenna is fond of arguing that if the Redskins ever change their name, they should sell the naming rights to the highest corporate bidder, thus opening up a huge new revenue stream both for their own franchise and for the NFL at large.

I think he’s joking about this. Probably. But one local fantasy football owner managed to pull off a similar trick.

See, for a variety of reasons, Graham Davis does not like playing fantasy football for money. But his league — filled with longtime pals and fellow Bethesda-Chevy Chase grads — instituted a modest $100 entry fee this season. So Davis posted a message on Facebook over the summer, seeking corporate sponsorship for his team. The ad:

looking for possible corporate sponsor(s) for my fantasy football team. terms and conditions:
1. will grant you full naming rights to the team
2. possibly willing to share some of the g.m. duties
3. will pay you double the sponsorship fee when we win

At just $100, Graham called it “a bargain.” That might be a subjective description; unless you had knowledge that Davis was a fantasy football savant, there’s not much to be gained by sponsoring a fantasy football league made up of a small group of local friends.

Nevertheless, one of Davis’s high school pals, Tony Zaslav, seized on the opportunity. Zaslav is the co-owner and president of Endless Waters, a Gaithersburg company that provides all-you-can-drink home delivery of bottled water, and he apparently had $100 burning a hole in his pocket.

Now, Graham wanted to make sure that Tony’s sponsorship money was rewarded, even though his team — Gumption 2.1 Powered By Endless Waters — got off to a slow start. And what’s the best way to reward a corporate sponsor? Media coverage, naturally.

Thus, I’m here to report that Gumption 2.1 Powered by Endless Waters seems to be rallying despite its rocky beginning. A mid-season acquisition of Nick Foles might have been the spark the team needed; Foles’s s 61-point outburst last weekend propelled Gumption 2.1 Powered by Endless Waters to a 3-6 record, good for seventh in the League of Justice Part Trois. The top six teams make the playoffs, so don’t read this team its last rites quite yet.

But seriously, why bring in a corporate sponsor?

“When I originally posted my offer on Facebook, I wasn’t expecting anyone to take me up on it,” Graham explained in an e-mail. “But I wasn’t interested in playing fantasy football for money anymore, since I believe saying you are good at it is like saying you are good at lottery scratchers. Plus, it was only a matter of time until someone says, ‘$100 may not seem like a lot to you, but it is to me, so please take this more seriously,’ which sucks the fun out of it.”

As for Tony, I’m not quite sure what was in it for him, other than newfound access to the league’s chatroom, which is filled with former classmates. A chatroom, incidentally, where Graham now signs all his messages with the tagline “powered by Endless Waters.”

Plus, Tony’s company — Endless Waters, which you can read about here — has now gotten exposure on The Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Bog, for whatever that’s worth. That’s good media placement by Graham right there.

Other owners, it goes without saying, “think Tony was nuts” for sponsoring a fantasy football team, and have heckled Graham about selling out. He thinks they’re just jealous.

“Winning the league would be huge, but having a corporate sponsor means I am playing with house money,” he noted. “Basically, I am up $100 on everyone else. So I definitely don’t feel as if I have sold out at all by having a corporate sponsor. In fact, I feel like I am way ahead of the curve.”

(Note: My decision to grant free publicity to Endless Waters — whose vision is built on a simple idea: “to ensure that all of our customers receive the best bottled water and the highest level of customer service at the lowest price” — is a one-time offer. You can e-mail me all the amazing sponsorship stories you want. Not happening.)

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | November 5, 2013