Name-picture deals, like those at the University of Southern California, should serve student-athletes.

Demand for Yeezys has skyrocketed recently for a major retailer of high quality footwear and apparel… much to my chagrin.

Apparently, some people consider them a collector’s item, despite (or because of) the well-known anti-Semitic musings of their creator, formerly known as Kanye West. So while Adidas, which cut ties with Ye over his offensive remarks, was reported to be sitting on a $500 million Yeezy that it can’t sell, this reseller called Impossible Kicks is shuffling up to 7,000 pairs a month. some up to $400.

I want you to keep all of this in mind as you ponder this question:

How much do you think Tim Tebow’s 2006 shoes would be worth today if he could sell things during the frenzy that surrounded him in Florida for four years? You know, like everyone else.

Opinion Explorer

LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports and life in America.

If Yeezy can still move after all the controversy, if a pair of shoes Michael Jordan wore as a freshman can cost almost $1.5 million, Tebow would give new meaning to the “big man on campus” student-athlete name. Image/likeness deals were in the air when he was at the height of his popularity.

This has always been a stumbling block for me in the ongoing debate about student-athlete compensation. College students have very little time to take advantage of their fame—15 minutes, as they say—and the NCAA owns every second. When TV deals started exceed eight figurespretending this deal was fair would be gaslighting 101.

This does not mean that NILs are perfect. There will always be some chaos between shadowy third-party collectives and different states with different rules. But the thing is, there has always been chaos, with hiring violations and boosters swirling around campuses. At least now future Tebows can make some money in the midst of the chaos.

And the fact that there are still coaches who complain about the lost “amateur” fairy tale is ridiculous. Not everyone is going to make millions on the pros. For most student athletes, this is the end of a sports career.

Georgia has a 15-year-old quarterback named Julian “JuJu” Lewis who has over 100,000 Instagram followers, north of 200,000 TikTok likes, and is already being compared to Trevor Lawrence, the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Why shouldn’t he turn his social media presence into coin like other influencers his age? Lewis also has 35 scholarships, including from USC, which has a sports department that is not funded by outside NIL teams, but opened its own store, BLVD, last June. which has since run out.

Last month the Tommy Group, led by former USC great Keyshawn Johnson, officially launched as an external team for USC players …after having already started working with 80 student-athletes. Among them is Caleb Williams, who, unlike Tebow, was able to cash in on his likeness while in college.

Or think of Johnny Manzel, who became the first freshman to win a Heisman back in 2012. He was nicknamed “Johnny Football” in high school, but did not use it until he left Texas A&M. By that time, the lion’s share of his 15 minutes was behind him, and with it, huge earning potential. Of course, he and Tebow were still selected in the first round and signed contracts worth millions. But what about the millions left on the table when they were in college? Or, more precisely, the millions that ended up in other people’s pockets while they were “amateurs”?

When Johnson told me about the Tommy Group, I was thrilled to see my friend use his experience to help Trojans like Williams make money that he didn’t make when he was in college. Representation matters and I think it’s a win-win situation where great NFL players like Johnson and Drew Brees who joined the NIL team at his alma mater Purdue, return this way. In many ways, they are the only ones who can really understand what a student-athlete like Williams goes through.

Case in point: The Athletic held Survey of NFL agents regarding their thoughts on the NILand one of them said, “The problem is you see a lot of unqualified people taking advantage of these young people.”

First of all, this wealth comes from the agent.

Second, former college stars who made their careers in the NFL are some of the most qualified people to show younger versions of themselves how to make the most of their 15 minutes (if college is really the end of their glory).

Maybe that’s why Tebow was among the speakers at the NIL summit in Atlanta last year to tell the next Heisman winner what he’s learned.

Johnson told me that his group’s goal was not to make money for themselves, but to find the best for the Trojans. And considering how many times this lifelong Trojan yelled “Fight!” in my face, I believe him.

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