Madison Avenue has not gone whole hog about the Hogs.
Jeff Troncone is Madison Avenue's version of Yenta the matchmaker. His mission in life is finding a pretty face, a believable, likeable, familiar face, to suit the products of the agencies he represents.
No one has asked for the Fun Bunch. No one has asked for the Hogs. "Who are the Hogs?" he asked, the cruelest cut of all.
The Super Hogs are incorporated now. There will be official Hog hats, Hog shirts (baseball shirts, T-shirts and shirts with a Hog on the breast), Hog pencils and Hog notebooks. They have initiated conversations with the National Pork Council.
Mark May, the esteemed gourmet, is writing a Hog cookbook, due out this fall. No bologna recipes, thank you.
There is a widespread impression that the day after the Super Bowl, the gravy train pulls into town. T'ain't necessarily so. The word from Madison Avenue is that the average Super Bowl champion gets slim pickings. "There is no gravy train," said Ed Garvey, head of the NFL Players Association.
One devoted mother wrote letters to Jeff Bostic and Mark Murphy, asking them to attend her son's birthday party and throw the ball around with the kids. Perry Brooks, the 265-pound defensive tackle, was asked to run in a 10-mile race, enough to make his eyes roll. Mark Moseley, the MVP in the NFL, kicked away the key on opening day of the Colony Motel in Alexandria.
March 5: Jeff Hayes Day in Elkin, N.C. March 12: Charlie Brown Day in Charleston, S.C., Russ Grimm Day in Mt. Pleasant, Pa. March 25: Tony McGee Day, Battle Creek, Mich. March 26: Otis Wonsley Day, Moss Point, Miss. Five Redskins contributed their time to the Easter egg roll at the White House.
Marty Blackman of Blackman and Raiber Ltd. in New York specializes in matching athletes and advertisers. "It takes more than just winning the Super Bowl," he said. "What it takes is consistency. The Dallas Cowboys would do better this year than the Redskins. Advertising is planned six to nine months ahead. Nothing could be done to capitalize immediately. Up till now the Redskins were a joke. Didn't they say, 'No one believes us?' It's true. No one did. One game does not make Madison Avenue churn."
Athletes may be famous for more than the 15 minutes that Andy Warhol promises everyone. But they are usually out of a job by the time they turn 35. If they try to cash in on their moment of fame, they are considered crass. If they don't, they are liable to fumble the chance forever. "There is a fine line, I think, between doing the right amount, too much and doing nothing at all," John Riggins said.
"People think we're only out to try to get as much as we can," May said. "Then later, they say, 'What did you do with your money?' What do you do? What can you do?"
Some Redskins regard the offseason as a time to savor their families and accomplishments. Others are hustling to take advantage of opportunities. Others would like to be.
The word on the street--Madison Avenue--is that the big bucks, national bucks, are there for only Theismann and Riggins.
Theismann, who already had a national television deal with Canon cameras, will now see his kisser on every box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. He has replaced Roger Staubach on the children's football kit put out by a sporting goods company. He has done the Tonight Show. He was at the Academy Awards. He's talking with Hollywood.
Riggins talked to some Hollywood types about a part in a movie, but it didn't work out because shooting begins after the season starts. He figures he has gotten about 25 requests for his services, but he has no agent to keep track of them. "Nobody's beating a path to my door," he said. "Maybe they don't know where it is."
Blackman, the talent coordinator for the Miller Lite ads, says he has been working on an outdoor sporting goods deal for Riggins.
Moseley's agent, Carolyn Wells, says she is negotiating on his behalf with several national companies. She says he has signed contracts worth $75,000 since January, including a one-year deal with WRC Radio to do on-air and behind the scenes work. He has made a film with the U.S. Navy and performed "I Am An American" with the U.S. Air Force Band.
The number of personal appearances and the fees for them have probably increased the average Redskin's offseason income. Estimates vary in amount and from player to player. Garvey says $1,000. Bob Woolf, the sports attorney, says $10,000. "I exaggerate," he says.
George Starke, the offensive tackle, founded Super Hogs Inc. because everyone was making money off their hides except them. "I personally have not gotten anything," he said. "I have not made one single dollar outside of my normal pay from the Super Bowl."
Moseley's agent says he has received $6,000 for two autograph sessions, a total of four hours work. Running back Clarence Harmon got $900 for one four-hour autograph session. "Sometimes I think they go overboard," he said.
May, the offensive tackle, says if he took every offer that came his way, he might be able to earn $30,000 in the offseason. A more realistic figure is $20,000, he says. The number of appearances he makes and the fees he can command for them has increased by a third. He receives $700 for local speaking engagements, $1,500 out of town.
One week in March, Theismann did two luncheons in Atlanta, a dinner in Houston, a banquet in Detroit, and a sports banquet in Wilkes Barre, Pa. He generally gets about $5,000 for an appearance.
Riggins has spoken only once. "I've been to a lot of private banquets," he said. "I look like I've been on the rubber chicken circuit. It's not something I want to make a staple."
Recently at Capital Centre, the Redskin basketball team upset the highly favored Bullets' alumni, 24-22. "We knew it would be a tough game," said Coach Art Monk, sounding very coachlike. The Redskins in short pants got a bigger hand than the Bullets, even with Earl Monroe.
So why doesn't that mass appeal translate into massive goodies? Several reasons. Washington is not a big advertising town. "It's no worse than Cleveland, no better than Atlanta," said Troncone, who owns International Talent Negotiaters Inc. in New York. "There's a public service atmosphere that surrounds D.C. It's always: can you help me out?"
And there is always a politician looking for free ink or free air time. Even athletes most in demand must hustle. William Morris, who handles all of Theismann's contract negotiations, says most of his deals are ones they have pursued, not ones that have come to them.
May says he still gets more speaking engagments in Pittsburgh, where he went to school, than in Washington. "I don't think it's coming after people like people think," said Rich Milot, who said he isn't terribly interested anyway. "You've got to go after them."
Players are deluged with requests to contribute their time and they often do. Tony Peters, the all-pro safety, says he has gotten 75-100 requests, twice the number he got last year; not many offer money. "It's quite understandable in light of the economic distress," he said. "Basically, it's a lot of freebies. That's okay, too."
Garvey argues that football players do not fare as well as other athletes in the marketing mania. Partly, he says, that's because there are so many of them, partly because personality is submerged under layers of padding, and partly because many NFL stars are black.
Troncone says that nine out of 10 times, the endorsement opportunity will go to a white. For a black to succeed on Madison Avenue, he says, "He has to look more white than black and speak white."
Morris agrees. There are those who would assume that because of the large black population in Washington, black athletes would do well here. "It's disappointing that a black community like Washington, D.C., does not show better support for the black athlete," Morris said. Blackman is not as pessimistic. He estimates that blacks receive a quarter of the endorsement opportunities nationally, a vast improvement over the Jimmy Brown era. "He was the greatest," Blackman said. "He got only one endorsement, for a foot powder."
In a survey done last November by the Benton and Bowles advertising agency rating athletes' believability (by far the most important criterion for an advertiser), only two of the top 10 were black (Sugar Ray Leonard and Julius Erving).
The bottom line: Madison Avenue is picky and there are a lot of athletes from which to pick. Troncone says perhaps only one eighth of the celebrity ads use athletes, who are right for only certain products. Advertisers want certain things from them.
Believability. Likability. Familiarity. "The question comes down to who has credibility," Blackman said.
Athletes stand for winning. So to be credible, they have to win a lot. It's so easy to go from hot to cold. Herschel Walker killed himself endorsement-wise," Troncone said.
One reason many jocks emeritus, like Joe DiMaggio, get work is that their records and reputations become unassailable. "If you want to play percentages, who do you send up to bat? Old reliable," Blackman said.
So you're trying to sell ant traps. You need the perfect athlete to sell them. Take Magic's sparkle, Namath's sex appeal, Chamberlain's stature and Marv Throneberry's marvelous homeyness (homeliness?). Add Bubba's humor, Butkus' acting, Rose's hustle, Seaver's face, Jan Stephenson's legs and Jim Palmer's body. Throw in Mean Joe's intensity, O.J.'s ability and Staubach's earnestness. Sprinkle with Sugar Ray's smile, Madden's je ne sais quoi and Ben Davidson's voice.
Get out your Cuisinart. Mix.