One could easily make the argument that the evolution of sports media in the last 20 years has affected players much more than fans. Athletes in the national spotlight are no longer simply athletes, they are celebrities. Just ask Jerry Rice, Emmit Smith, Warren Sapp, Jason Taylor, or any of the multiple football players to appear on “Dancing with the Stars.”
While names like Brett Favre and Chad Ochocinco dominate sporting tabloids, they are frankly too easy to go after. Instead, take someone like Tony Romo, the quarterback of “America’s Team” always seems to find his way into the media during the offseason. Fans are constantly being updated on Romo’s love life. His relationship with Jessica Simpson was even brought up as a reason for his poor on the field performance. Even after the relationship ended the media bombards us with stories of Romo’s golfing ability and rumors that he is giving up football for golf. Take then someone like Peyton Manning who is in the national spotlight just as much, if not more than Romo. Manning is arguably more of a household name than Romo but his media attention comes from his brilliant on the field performance as well as his multiple product endorsements for Gatorade, Sony and many other high profile companies. Manning is a class act that has a positive reputation on and off the field, it is no wonder that he has more endorsements than any other player in the NFL.
When looking at players who are at their best on and off the field one need not look further than Raider Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The All-Pro corner is widely regarded as the best (and highest paid) player on his team. Yet instead of letting the success and money go to his head, Asomugha has been humble, even winning the Jefferson Award. Despite all of this, Asomugha is far from a household name. On the other side of the ball is Terrell Owens who without a doubt will go down in history as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. Yet his success off the field is marred by his actions off of it (and during celebrations). Since his days in Philadelphia, Owens has been viewed as a team cancer, a reputation that most likely led to his extended free agency this year. What is perhaps worse about Owens is that as he begins to lose a step or two it seems as if his mouth begins to pick up the slack. His recent pairing with Chad Ochocinco has caused the receiver to become more vocal than ever before, taking his personality to national television with multiple TV shows. So while Asomugha and Owens are often considered the best players on their respective teams, Owens choses to let the entire world know, while Asomugha is content just doing his job on the field and improving the lives of others off of it.