QBs of color lead parade of players moving NFL merch

A lead is never safe in the NFL (National Football League). The same can be said for the merchandise leaderboard among players. The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) released the top 50 player merchandise sales list from March 1, 2020 – Nov. 30, 2020 as part of their quarterly top 50 list, which reports sales of all officially licensed NFL player products from online and traditional retail outlets as reported by more than 80 NFLPA licensees.

Some of the names on the list and their rankings are surprises. Some are not. What might be considered to be an eye-opener, quarterbacks of color lead the parade of players moving NFL merchandise. Starting with Patrick Mahomes II and concluding with Deshaun Watson, quarterbacks of color highlight those generating the highest sales of NFL merchandise. 

The final list will be released in April, but for now, this is the most up-to-date and comprehensive sales figures available. In the Top 20 players.  

  1. Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay
  2. Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Kansas City
  3. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore
  4. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami 
  5. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati
  6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas
  7. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
  8. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
  9. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco
  10. Cam Newton, QB, New England
  11. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas
  12. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas
  13. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo
  14. Julian Edelman, WR, New England
  15. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland
  16. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh 
  17. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas
  18. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
  19. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco
  20. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay

Tom Brady just can’t seem to lose. First, Brady recorded a Super Bowl victory over Patrick Mahomes and now he has passed him in merchandise sales. Just a year ago, Mahomes was on top of the football world with a Super Bowl MVP trophy and overtaking Brady for the top spot on the NFLPA list.

Brady, however, after signing on with his new team in Tampa Bay, became a seven-time Super Bowl champion, guiding the Buccaneers to a title. That success has elevated Brady to the No. 1 position in merchandise sales. Brady has maintained his selling power with a record 18 straight appearances in the top three since the NFLPA began releasing the list way back in 2014.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes tossed four touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

Even though Mahomes will have to deal with coming in second behind Brady again, he did come out on top in several categories. Mahomes was first in the sales of commemorative coins, puzzles, and collectible trains from Bradford Exchange, 500 Level T-shirts, Funko Pop! Vinyl figurines, Lang calendars as well as Victory Tailgate cornhole boards, and bobbleheads made by FOCO. 

The NFL keeps a lot of stats but who knew they had stats on all these individual items from their official licensees. 

Lamar Jackson placed No. 3 on the list which is not all that surprising. Jackson is one of the most exciting players in the NFL. His merch sales placed him in the top five in several categories like socks from FBF Originals, Strideline, and Rock Em and also a top-five player in Fathead wall decals and cutouts.

Rookies Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow rounded out the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, respectively. Tagovailoa led all other players in T-shirt sales from Bleacher Report who is a new licensee this year. Not to be outdone, Burrow led in more than one category such as Wincraft pins, koozies, posters, and stickers. Burrow led all five of the categories for consecutive quarters. 

The quarterback (QB) position is the most glamorous and attention-grabbing position in the game so it makes sense that all of the top five players on the list play at quarterback and eight of the top ten. 

The top non-quarterback seller was Dallas Cowboy running back Ezekial Elliott at No. 6. The Cowboys are the only team that has three players in the Top 20 with quarterback Dak Prescott (No. 11) and WR CeeDee Lamb (No. 17). The Cowboys are one of the most recognizable brands in the world and ranked by Forbes as the most valuable sports team with an estimated value of $5.5 billion. 

The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Charger, 45-0, on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) is No. 10 in all NFL merchandise sales for the 2020 season. Photo credit: Los Angeles Chargers

The only other non-QB in the Top10 is tight end George Kittle at No. 9. Kittle’s appearance on the list is a little eyebrow-raising. Considering that Kittle had multiple injuries throughout the season and the 49ers were irrelevant in the postseason, Kittle didn’t see the field much. 

It would be far less surprising had Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce, the two tight ends who played in the Super Bowl, been in Kittle place. Gronkowski squeaked in the Top 20 by placing 20th and Kelce landed all the way back at 29th. Give Kittle his flowers, the man is moving merchandise.

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs made moves since the previous quarterly report. Jacobs moved up nine places to finish at No. 12 and became the second running back in the Top 20. Jacob was drafted by the Raiders with the No. 24 pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft.

During an unprecedented season, teams and players had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the silver lining may be the fact that more face coverings and neck gaiters were sold. Of course, the NFL has the stats on what player names and numbers were featured the most. Mahomes, Brady, Prescott, Kelce, and Elliott were the most sold face coverings and neck gaiters by Fanatics, FOCO, and Wincraft.

When the final report for the season is released in April we will see if there is a final lead change between Brady and Mahomes. Of the entire Top 50 list presented by the NFLPA only four teams are not represented. The Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the New York Jets are each without a player representing their franchise.

These fan bases need to stand up and show out for their favorite teams.