The National Pork Producers Council wants "Hogs" at its annual American Pork Congress in St. Louis next month.
The Diesel Institute of America, a diesel mechanics' school in Landover, wants to give "The Diesel" an honorary degree.
No one yet has announced plans for the "Smurfs," at least not for the "Smurfs" as a group, as the Redskins' receivers are nicknamed. But calls still are pouring into the offices of the World Champion Washington Redskins, and the "Smurfs" may get their chance.
It's the Third Season, folks--the season after the Redskins' 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, which followed the Season of the Strike. It's supermoney time--the season for cashing in on fame through product endorsements and personal appearances. Right?
Don't bet on it, says Del Wilber, marketing vice president of ProServ Inc., a Washington-based company that represents sports celebrities.
"You can count on one hand the number of pro-football players who achieve national status and the kind of wealth that status brings," Wilber said.
Calls from pork producers who want "Hogs," members of the Redskins' offensive line, and from diesel mechanics who want running back John (The Diesel) Riggins, don't necessarily bring money, Wilber said. Calls to the callers indicate that he might have a point.
"It is not quite accurate that we're asking them to endorse products" for a fee, said Kim McAdams, public relations director for the pork producers' council.
"We'd like to have them at our convention. . . . We understand that some of them have farm backgrounds," said McAdams, whose organization circulated "Hogs Are Beautiful" buttons at last Wednesday's welcome-home parade for the Redskins.
"A lot of us are Redskins' fans at the school. We'd like to honor Riggins, encourage him to keep using the name, 'Diesel,' " said Thomas E. Ugast, admissions counselor for The Diesel Institute of America.
"We have a lot of students here who come from farm backgrounds like Riggins. He's made them proud. We'd like to thank him for that," Ugast said.
Super Bowl victors do get paid for commercial and celebratory use of their post-season time. But the big bucks tend to go to the big names, said Jerry Walker, assistant director of public relations for the San Francisco 49ers, last year's Super Bowl champions.
"It didn't turn out the way we expected," Walker said. "We had expected that every player would share the wealth. But it was just the key players. As the mail went, so went the opportunities for product endorsements."
Most of the mail went to San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana, whose product endorsements after Super Bowl XVI yielded a "six-figure" income, Walker said. San Francisco receiver Dwight Clark, who worked with Montana to produce the 49ers 26-to-21 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1982 bowl game, earned about $50,000 in post-season endorsements, Walker said.
"The rest picked up $500 here and there at banquet appearances and store openings. . . . You have to understand that the majority of callers asking for someone wanted someone free," Walker said. The 49ers, as a group, put in about 3,500 personal appearances after their Super Bowl victory. Walker said most of those shows were for charities, but he said none of his team's members had any regrets. The public relations value of such appearances, in enhancing a team's image and getting fans out to the games, also is apparent.
"The players didn't strike it rich in the off-season. But most of them really enjoyed giving something back to the community," Walker said.
National Football League officials say their players earn an average of about $250 per appearance at banquets and openings unrelated to charities. That may sound like small potatoes. But in Washington, the banquet-and-store-opening circuit could bring respectable post-season earnings, a Redskins official said.
"This has always been a good city for our players," said Redskins' spokesman Charlie Taylor. "We were already above normal in the league in terms of personal appearances made by our players. Stores like Hecht's and Woodie's are always holding autograph sessions. A lot of our guys are approached by local businessmen with off-season job offers," Taylor said.
"I can't explain why that's the case. Maybe, it's because the team has been around here since 1937. People here are crazy about the Redskins. Many of them grew up with the team," said Taylor. Another reason why Redskins players may do better with business endorsements is that about half of the team's members stay in the Washington area during the off-season, Taylor said.
"They are not like other players who finish the season and leave town. A lot of our guys hang around. Businessmen know them."
But, again, it's the big names--quarterback Joe Theismann, Riggins and kicker Mark Mosley--who tend to attract national commercial attention, Taylor said. Theismann, for example, already had a contract with Canon U.S.A, the U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturer of camera and electronics equipment.
Taylor said he doesn't expect to see more Redskins players getting national exposure because of their Super Bowl victory. "Theisman and guys like that already were popular," he said.
But even Theismann's national popularity isn't guaranteed, in a commercial sense, Wilber said.
"For every consumer who sees Theismann as a hero, there's probably one who sees him as an enemy," Wilber said. "You can't really expect somebody in Dallas or Minnesota to get excited over seeing Joe Theismann in an ad. He beat them. They remember that.
When it comes to getting contracts for product endorsements, football players, champions or not, would be better off as tennis or golf stars, Wilber said.
"Tennis and golf don't attract the same kind of large audiences that you get with football. But the tennis and golf stars get more exposure. The camera is on them, as opposed to being on an entire team. And tennis stars don't wear helmets.
"It's hard for people to remember a guy whose head and face are under a helmet," Wilber said.
But what about promoters? Can't football players do better with promoters? Wilber, a promoter himself, believes they can.
"If someone would take an active interest, you could keep the Super Bowl fever going. . . . But the problem is that most of these guys aren't represented by a marketing manager," Wilber said. in a statement verfied by Redskins officials verified that statement.
"Most of the managers in pro sports are financial managers, people who keep the players on track with things like taxes and bills," Wilber said. He paused. "A lot of these players may be losing opportunities waiting for the phone to ring.