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July 08, 2020

The NFL’s leading royalties earner in 2019 was a guy who’s been retired for three years

Show of hands: Who wants to hear about the leading marketing and royalty earners in the NFL in 2019? Wow, that’s just about everybody! Your wish is our command, eager young spreadsheet enthusiasts. Here, feast your eyes on the cold hard numbers, first reported by The Athletic’s David Kaplan on Tuesday.

Ah yes, Tom Brady, the pliable GOAT; Patrick Mahomes, the $500 million dollar man; and Dak Prescott, America’s team’s American boy. All no brainers. Then of course there’s Peyton Manning who . . . wait, wait, wait. Hold up. Peyton Manning? The same Peyton Manning who retired three years ago with an overcooked piece of linguine for an arm and a hairline holding clinging to life like roots at the cliff’s edge? Apparently yes, and it’s not really all that close either, with Manning outpacing TB12 by nearly half a million in licensing earnings last year.

If you’re wondering just what the hell “licensing earnings” entail, it’s video games, jerseys, cards, and other ancillary items featuring the players’ name and/or likeness. That’s right, folks. Peyton Manning’s likeness is more valuable than his even his little brother’s. Who would have thought?

Now Peyton doesn’t exactly need the extra dough. Between filming a new Nationwide commercial every 15 seconds and schilling $200 bottles of bourbon, Manning has been doing alright for himself in retirement. Still it’s impressive to see his staying power. ESPN would sacrifice Booger McFarland to the Mayan gods to get 18 in the MNF booth. He’s still raking in more marketing money per year than the guy who spent his career beating him. There’s a lot of very obvious and cynical things for football fans to like about Peyton, but it also helps that he’s just really likeable.

Time will tell if he ultimately becomes the NFL’s Jerry West—an excellent player during his generation who somehow becomes the very symbol of the league—but the early signs are promising for Peyton corp., who are probably celebrating with a few ice, cold American Budweisers as we speak.