Although there are a few American soccer players who pitch soccer related products, none can live up to the pitching skills of the departed Billy Mays, but they do what they can to add to their salaries, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Let’s look back at some of the, perhaps now, classic pitches.
Kenny Cooper’s ad for the Jimmy Training Ball got me thinking about the Seinfeld episode where another ‘Jimmy’ is pushing those vertical leap training shoes, but gets sidelined by Kramer after he slips in the locker room. "Jimmy’s gonna get you, Kramer! Jimmy holds grudges!"
And to think I thought Cooper learned how to play soccer from his Dad or while training with Manchester United as a youth player. Turns out, he just used the Jimmy Soccer Training Ball. With the background music in the video, it looks like something that could be featured at Burning Man, alongside the fire dancers, or perhaps at a rave, all that was missing was a few glow sticks.
Really though, anything that makes a youth soccer player more comfortable with the ball can only be a good thing. If it gets them out on the practice field more often then purchasing these products is worth it.
Just ask, Taylor Twellman, another famous pitchman. He used the Kick Medic in his early days before he made it to the MLS. Sure, right. How can you pass up doing an ad with Leslie Osborne though?
Or take Clint Dempsey, he too used some soccer equipment to make it as a professional soccer player, and it took him all the way to the EPL and Fulham, for him the tool was the Soccer Wave. As Dempsey says, "Soccer Wave teaches trapping, heading, volley shots, and more." Honestly, seems like a cool piece of equipment I wish I had in my back yard growing up. Those pieces of plywood I threw together didn’t hold up as a back stop for long.
Dempsey can pass on some of these offers now. He’s making about $58,334 per week playing for Fulham, when he made that in a year playing for the New England Revolution in the MLS.
We can’t forget Alecko Eskandarian, who sported the F90 Premier Headgear after a concussion, but has since stopped wearing the gear. Sure, this wasn’t a product to help you with your skills per say, but it may give someone who’s suffered a concussion the ability to play and head the ball without fear – that’s only a good thing. I’m curious though, how much do you think Eskandarian was paid for wearing the headgear?
Alexi Lalas seems like he’s got a lot of potential as a pitchmen. He indirectly did a comical pitch for Red Bull a while back. However, he may have missed his chance to pitch products, as his playing days in the Italian Serie A have past and he’s cut the hair and trimmed the goatee.
What other American soccer players are endorsing products? Does Donovan or any other Galaxy players actually use Herbalife? Don’t think getting swine flu is a good image for any product, sorry Donovan.
Bobby Convey used to pitch Kwik Goal back when he was on the U.S. national team. Sacha Kljestan has a deal it looks like with EA Sports, seeing as he’s on the cover of the recent FIFA soccer video game.
The ladies too have their fair share of endorsement deals, with brands and companies of a higher quality than the men. Mia Hamm had a deal with Gatorade after she retired from the game. Heather Mitts has a deal with Under Armour.
Heck, non-Americans do their fair share of shilling of products. Giovani Dos Santos did a commercial in Mexico for Chupa Chups, an ad that probably runs on Saturday mornings when they show dibujos animados. And of course David Beckham is the face of Emporio Armani and has an assortment of deals with companies like Gillette and Vodafone.
However, the true pitchmen are the ones listed further up above – Dempsey, Cooper, and Twellman. They’re hocking products that you really don’t need to become a great quality player. I don’t think Robinho or Ronaldino were using the Soccer Wave, the Jimmy Training Ball, or a Kick Medic down in Brazil.
And to the credit of these American pitchmen, I’d be surprised if they used them at all, besides while filming the ads themselves. I just don’t see Dempsey dragging around a Soccer Wave in Texas.
Hey, nothing wrong with pitching a product though, American professional soccer players have to start somewhere. Next up, hopefully we’ll see some high paying non-soccer related products: BMW, Mercedes, and Cartier pitched by the likes of Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies.
With the World Cup coming around in less than a year, why not. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see Altidore and Davies come away from South Africa sharing the golden boot title and endorsement deals coming in droves.