Iowa Football

Iowa's Josh Jackson jumps into the professional athlete arena

Website with apparel is the start in what's a rapidly changing sports industry

A T-shirt Josh Jackson is selling on his website, featuring his one-handed interception during Iowa's win over Ohio State last season.
A T-shirt Josh Jackson is selling on his website, featuring his one-handed interception during Iowa's win over Ohio State last season.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — When you see the T-shirt, you, as an Iowa fan, of course, immediately know what the logo is.

And then there’s the “JJ” logo, with football laces pulling together the Js. And here’s the website with the “combine collection” gear.

Josh Jackson has jumped into being a professional athlete with both feet.

Before the NFL combine this week, Jackson, a consensus all-American in 2017 and the nation’s leader in interceptions (eight) and passes defended (26), unveiled an apparel line. It’s a product of Jackson’s partnership with VaynerSports, a full-service athlete representation agency that guides players through a variety of issues involving their professional career.

Last fall, Gary Vaynerchuk and his brother A.J., co-founders of the digital media marketing agency VaynerMedia, rebranded a boutique sports agency that they acquired.

VaynerSports is “helping forward-thinking athletes grow and leverage social media followings to create ‘non-traditional branding opportunities,’” Ben Frost, who works in branding and content development with Vayner, wrote in email.

“VaynerSports wants to change the way athletes do business — and who they do it with,” Frost wrote.

An example, the company hired Daniel David a year ago. David had experience with the marketing and branding for athletes like Ohio State’s Braxton Miller.

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“Braxton has his own brand, ‘CHARG1NG,’ which was created after his college career ended,” Frost wrote. “Braxton suffered a shoulder injury and position change while he was at Ohio State, so the line was created to inspire others to keep ‘charging’ and never give up. Daniel has helped Braxton get his brand out to the masses since they were students together at Ohio State.”

VaynerSports is positioning itself as a disrupter. Everyone loves disrupters.

Here’s an excerpt from a Forbes.com interview with A.J. Vaynerchuk:

Q: Is there anything you can point to that you don’t like about, or are hoping to change about the “traditional” sports agent or agencies model?

A: #1 issue is that I hear far too often that an agent disappears after the contract gets done. The way that NFL contracts are set up, if a player signs a 5 year deal and plays the entirety of that contract, the agent who negotiated the deal will earn a commission each and every year of that contract. What sometimes happens is that an agent gets the deal done, and then stops trying/working since they will make $$$ one way or another over the duration of the contract. HATE that, absurd to me.

Maybe this could really work.

Here’s a link to Josh Jackson’s site and the “Pick Man” T-shirt. By the way, the picture on the T-shirt is Jackson’s third interception, the one-hander just outside of Iowa’s end zone, in the Hawkeyes’ 55-24 victory over Ohio State.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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