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Peyton Manning: The NFL's Anna Kournikova?

8/14/2006 4:17 PM PDT

Peyton Manning: The NFL's Anna Kournikova?

Even if you don't care a lick about football, that face to the left there is probably pretty familiar to you. That's because Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts' quarterback, has been everywhere, starring in TV spots for no less than five different companies, including popular spots for Gatorade, DirecTV, and MasterCard.

And starting this fall, Manning's going to be even more exposed, featuring prominently in high-profile ad campaigns for Reebok and Sony, the latter alongside golf prodigy Michelle Wie. In 2005, Manning landed $10.5 million in endorsements according to Sports Illustrated, amongst the highest of any athlete. And his agent's recent defection to powerhouse Creative Artists Agency suggests that more showbiz is in the offing for the NFL's golden boy.

But, like tennis' Anna Kournikova before him, Manning's a superstar pitchman who hasn't actually won anything on the field, from high school to college to the pros. To be fair, Manning, at 30, already holds several NFL passing records, and he nearly led his team to an undefeated season last year, a level of success Kournikova never came close to achieving.

And yet, how is it that Peyton, without Tiger Woods' titles or Anna K's, er, talents, has become the face of just about everything?

Chalk it up to something utterly basic: likeability. "He's the nicest guy in the world and everybody loves him," said Terry Lefton, editor-at-large of Sports Business Daily & Journal, recently. Even though Manning has yet to shake the reputation that he can't win the big game, leading sports marketing consultants explain that he's already too credible and trusted to lose his Madison Avenue luster.

Reebok, for instance, is putting what it has called "a very significant investment" into the new TV campaign called "When Did I Know," debuting in September during the NFL's opening weekend, and starring Manning. And the company certainly doesn't lack confidence that Manning can sell their shoes and equipment."Peyton is as important to us as any asset we have at Reebok," said Eddie White, vice president of team properties, in the Indianapolis Star. "It's safe to say he'll be with Reebok as long as he plays football." Watch TMZ Sports on FS1 Get the new TMZ Sports app!


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