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Selling the city on a quarterback hoping to land a big score on the field and in business
And when the deal finally went through bringing McNabb to the Redskins from the Philadelphia Eagles, Team McNabb didn't waste time developing its strategy. The goal has always been for McNabb "to transcend football," Stroth said, but the change of scenery put McNabb in a hub of opportunities unlike what he experienced in 11 years in Philadelphia.
"From our perspective, he's one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, and he's committed to winning a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins," Stroth said. "He is genuine. He is a winner. He is consistent."
Stroth said they're trying to emulate the Magic Johnson model that so many others such as Ronnie Lott, Roger Staubach and John Elway have successfully leveraged. McNabb is in discussions with several Washington area businesses in the technology and health-care sectors, hoping to get equity stakes in return for aligning his brand with those companies.
"Most athletes don't take the time, energy and effort to meet with CEOs and to be on conference calls and in meetings, cultivating relationships," Stroth said. "He is preparing each day for life beyond football."
It's a savvy strategy for a seasoned athlete: broaden the focus of his investments from endorsements to building ownership stakes in growing businesses.
This reinvention as a businessman can be challenging, according to Trax.
Instead of just taking fees to endorse a product, for instance, Johnson became an owner in a chain of theaters and in other growing properties. In effect, the athlete is an owner of a business that can create much greater wealth than a simple promotional fee.
"Magic was smart enough to connect with the right people in the business community, which helped him build a brand and connect with business opportunities," Trax said.
Even so, "maybe one out of 100 deals that you see goes through the second level of due diligence," he said, "where you peel back the onion and it makes sense. It's very, very rare."
McNabb is reaching out to people in Washington who share his hometown roots. His handlers wasted little time engaging the Obama administration. McNabb is not politically active. He concedes that he didn't even vote until the 2008 presidential election. But he's from Chicago and shares that connection with President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and others on the White House staff.
In fact, McNabb filmed a public-service announcement for the Department of Education and will visit area schools to talk with students. Josh Dubois, director of the president's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, attended the Arlington reception, and McNabb intends to get involved with Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign.
"I think certainly anytime a marquee name migrates to a new location, in that geography it creates new opportunity, companies looking to tap into the hype before the athlete has proven himself to do what he's there to do: to win football games," said Paul Swangard, a sports marketing expert at the University of Oregon. By "moving to Washington, is he using the nation's capital as a national platform for himself?"