The Super Bowl is the premier marketing and value-building platform that exists in this country. This event transcends the narrower genre of hardcore NFL fans to reach the general public. People who don't watch or attend games are caught up in the event nature of the week. Thousands of journalists have been encamped in Phoenix filing stories for a week. Every electronic media outlet is here. The stories run in the lifestyle, business, celebrity and food pages, as well as in sports.
The audience is the largest in television each year, and the game is broadcast in 130 countries. What does this mean for players? It means that an athlete who performs dramatically in a Super Bowl will see his life changed forever. It offers the potential to move beyond a sports audience to become a household name. Dramatic performers who have engaging personalities will appear on late night shows, daytime magazine shows, magazines -- they will be fed into the celebrity-making machine that has taken over media.
Advertisers and sponsors look for these athletes to promote their products. In 1993, Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys entered the Rose Bowl as a very good quarterback. When he was named Super Bowl MVP in the Cowboys' rout of Buffalo, he instantly became "TROY AIKMAN SUPERSTAR." He was offered major endorsement contracts in all the major marketing categories. He still does national endorsements 20 years later.
Two years after Aikman's breakthrough, 49ers quarterback Steve Young escaped from the shadow of predecessor Joe Montana with a six-touchdown, MVP performance, and he became "STEVE YOUNG SUPERSTAR." He was also offered innumerable product endorsements and he still is doing them 20 years later.
A player who performs well and is a free agent will see his contract value soar. Other teams want a Super Bowl-winning player to give them leadership and set an example. Green Bay receiver and kick returner Desmond Howard was named MVP of the Packers' Super Bowl XXXI win over the Patriots. His contract value soared, we adjusted the numbers upward and he signed a rich contract with the Raiders. Victory in a Super Bowl provides a contributing player with a bright patina on his resume that never goes away.
Seahawk Richard Sherman twerked his way into national consciousness last year at this time, and his play in the Super Bowl gave him rich opportunities. Seahawk Marshawn Lynch has mummed his way to the same status this year as the rebel against the machine.
Based on the dramatic comeback victory, Tom Brady will hit legendary status. Rob Gronkowski made his presence known with one of the biggest plays in the game, in addition to Julian Edelman's 4th-quarter touchdown catch. Malcolm Butler's interception with 20 seconds left sealed a win for New England.
Some of these Patriot performers have changed their lives forever.
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.