If Players Begin Trading Themselves as Stock Commodities, Calvin Johnson’s a Bull Market


Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

This week, while relaxing in Florida and reading a local paper, I was stunned by the sight of color on the normally mundane business section. A sports story in the black and white world of economics? San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, it seems, is going to start selling shares of himself on the open market.

Holy Darren Rovell, talk about a bold money move.

Davis, a man who once caused the legendarily even-keeled Mike Singletary to melt down, sustained a major concussion in the past and plays at a position which doesn’t see much star power is set to become the first guinea pig of Fantex Inc., a Bay Area company that’s exploring introducing a bit of pigskin to Wall Street in the form of offering Davis as an IPO.

Nothing against Davis personally or professionally, but Fantex could have chosen a better target in their market, such as Colin Kaepernick. Locally, thoughts immediatly drifted back to Calvin Johnson, a man who has proven to have all the elements to survive the fluxuation between bull and bear markets, even in the high-risk world that NFL football presents.

What makes a great stock? As Ken Little wrote at About.com, three characteristics seem to define the best: product legs (will people still want the stock tomorrow?), the deep moat (strong competitive advantage and name recognition) and leader of the pack (does the stock set the tone in its market?) Companies such as Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Google have maximized the market thanks to these elements, and if companies want to start touting football players as tradable commodities, they would be best served to find similar versions to invest in first. Likely only a select few would ever qualify.

In Johnson, the Detroit Lions have all three categories met with their superstar receiver, who figures to be around a while longer, has incredible name recognition and routinely sets the current bar for play at his position. Statistically, he is a healthy and durable force, and has already dipped his toe into the pool of marketing, considering last year’s Nike campaign with Puff Daddy and a previous commercial with Acura. He could market himself as Megatron (with the symbol name MEGA, of course) and make plenty of people money in the years ahead, considering he’ll financially clean up, as well.

Can an athlete, specifically a football player, work as a stock? Nobody yet knows, but to better test the question, Fantex should look beyond Davis, a willing participant from their local market, and open their mind to other national options.

Johnson, long considered the best wide receiver in the game and an elite big money talent, would be the perfect match which could allow an uncertain endeavor in uneven economic times a solid chance at flourishing.