Seahawks players taking business into own hands with online stores

Sep 25, 2014, 5:53 AM | Updated: 11:34 am
Richard Sherman models a personalized T-shirt for sale on his website. Sherman is among a number of players who have set up their own online stores and gone into business for themselves in a growing trend. (

If you go to Richard Sherman’s Twitter feed this week, you won’t see any of the usually colorful posts and bombast from the Seahawks star about Sunday’s dramatic overtime win over the Denver Broncos. But you will see a few promoting his website and online store.

Sherman is just one of many players who’ve set up shop for themselves online, selling their own personalized sweatshirts and other merchandise.

It’s a big departure from the old model, where players relied almost exclusively on the NFL to sell officially licensed jerseys and other merchandise, says Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

“As the sophistication of the business has grown up over the years and athletes have been hammered on the idea that they’ve got to leverage their notoriety for a long term post-playing career career, it seems like we’re seeing more of it now than we ever have before,” says Swangard.

The merchandise allows players to build their own brands far beyond an official jersey with their name and number. Sherman’s line includes a variety of men’s and women’s wear featuring his trademark, “You Mad Bro?” and images of his now famous tip from the NFC championship game that sealed the Seahawks’ trip to the Super Bowl.

“Players are beginning to see the big picture outside of football,” says Branton Sherman, Richard’s big brother and manager of the family business.

“We’re just doing what we can to utilize the platform and take full advantage of it from a business standpoint so once he finishes playing the game he can possibly step into his own Fortune 500 company,” says Branton.

Fellow defensive backs
Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are among Sherman’s teammates also pushing their own clothing lines and other personalized merchandise.

While players like Sherman or Russell Wilson have scored big dollar, national endorsement deals, far fewer opportunities are available for players like Chancellor, Thomas and others who don’t get the national spotlight, says Swangard. Going into business for themselves makes perfect sense.

“To be able to use the new vehicles to go direct to consumer and build that interest and that marketability directly is a testament to them being a little bit savvier,” says Swangard.

How much athletes can make make from their online ventures remains to be seen. Swangard says there’s no way to know how many people are actually buying Earl Thomas babywear for $24.95.

“The upside remains somewhat limited, but if you’re going direct to consumer and are able to generate more of that direct income stream, not have to pay party A or party B to do that, you’re going to maximize that opportunity,” he says.

Swangard says the biggest challenge for athletes taking business into their own hands is a lack of basic business acumen. Many don’t have any experience or knowledge, and far too many surround themselves with friends or associates who lack what he calls, “basic business 101.”

“I’ve seen a lot of athletes make really bad decisions about getting involved in businesses that really have nothing to do with them other than just a consumer seeing it’s really all about a money grab,” he says.

Branton Sherman agrees. He admits despite his business background, there was a steep learning curve as his brother began gaining celebrity status and the brothers began charting their own course.

“I was like a 3-year-old being thrown inside of 12 feet of water and asked to swim. I was forced to pretty much get out there and learn,” he says.

Now, along with managing the family business he’s also counseling younger players, sharing his hard-learned lessons.

“I try to preach to the young guys that you utilize your brand while you still have this NFL platform,” Branton says.

Along with building brand, Branton says Richard and other players also realize taking their businesses into their own hands allow them to promote their philanthropic endeavors as well, such as the Richard Sherman Family Foundation.

“We are so blessed,” he says. “We are committed to doing all we can. We are not just going to sit back and be content.”

Local News

U-district shooting...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Driver fleeing U-District shooting hits, kills 21-year-old with vehicle

A driver fleeing the scene of a reported University District shooting hit and killed a pedestrian with their vehicle on Saturday morning.
20 hours ago
Orca Humpback Fight...
Colleen West, KIRO 7 News

Rare clash between orcas, humpback whales witnessed in Salish Sea

A large group of orcas and pair of humpback whales harassed each other during an hours-long encounter about 25 miles west of Port Angeles.
20 hours ago
weekend traffic...
Micki Gamez

Closures to cause heavy traffic through Seattle this weekend

Be prepared for long commutes in Seattle this weekend as construction closures are set to cause heavy traffic on I-90, I-5, SR-9 and more.
20 hours ago
Ted Buehner

Dry summers delay changes in leaves, but brilliant autumn colors around the corner

This sunny dry weather is expected to continue through Columbus Day Weekend, providing more unseasonably warm weather for enjoying fall hues.
2 days ago
Hanna Scott

No timeline for Office of Independent Investigations use of force cases to begin

“The new Office of Independent Investigation will increase transparency and trust in investigations of deadly uses of force by law enforcement."
2 days ago
Nicole Jennings

The drought is over! Mariners fans are ready for postseason baseball

It's an exciting time to be a baseball fan in Seattle after the Mariners clinched a playoff berth in thrilling fashion Friday night.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Seahawks players taking business into own hands with online stores