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Sports

Tom Brady Leads Licensed NFL Player Sales in 2018-19

Contact the editor at karina@plainlanguagemedia.com

No matter what happens out in the field, the real MVP of the 2018-19 NFL season is—quite literally—Tom Brady, according to both the NFLPA’s top 50 players list and NFLshop.com’s list of top-selling jerseys.

Speaking of the Superbowl, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams contributed three players each to the NFLPA’s list this year as they head off to big championship. See the top 25 below.

Retail sales of NFL licensed merchandise in the U.S./Canada jumped 3.2% in 2017 to reach an estimated $3.64 billion. Not that bad, compared to 3.7% growth in 2016 and 3.4% in 2015—but considerably lower than the 5.2% rate observed in 2014. Note that sales of products based on licensed player properties (under the purview of the NFLPA) account for roughly one-third of total NFL-based sales as calculated by TLL.

The NFL also tracks the best-selling NFL jerseys, by player, through NFLshop.com. Approximately half of the retail sales of licensed NFL merchandise can be attributed to jerseys (which ring up at $99.99 apiece).

Top 10 NFL Players, by Retail Sales of Licensed Jerseys, 2018
Data Source: NFLShop.com
Rank Player Position Team
1 Tom Brady QB New England Patriots
2 Khalil Mack LB Chicago Bears
3 Patrick Mahomes QB Kansas City Chiefs
4 Ezekiel Elliott RB Dallas Cowboys
5 Saquon Barkley RB New York Giants
6 Drew Brees QB New Orleans Saints
7 Baker Mayfield QB Cleveland Browns
8 Carson Wentz QB Philadelphia Eagles
9 Dak Prescott QB Dallas Cowboys
10 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR Pittsburgh Steelers

For the second year ever, Tom Brady tops the list of NFL players with the most licensed retail sales (the last time was in the 2015-16 season). This year marks Brady’s 14th appearance among the top three (counting quarterly reports); the quarterback has never ranked outside the top nine.

Such staying power is unique—roughly 113 players have appeared on the annual list over the years. The largest share (35%) of players showed up just once, 19% twice, 16% three times, 12% five times, and 10% four times.

Just eight players (or 7%) have landed on the top 50 list every year since the NFLPA first began tracking such data for the 2013-14 season:

  • Tom Brady (No. 1 for the 2018-19 season, QB, New England Patriots),
  • Aaron Rodgers (No. 5, QB, Green Bay Packers),
  • Russell Wilson (No. 11, QB, Seattle Seahawks),
  • Rob Gronkowski (No. 15, TE, New England Patriots),
  • Drew Brees (No. 16, QB, New Orleans Saints),
  • J.J. Watt (No. 22, DE, Houston Texans),
  • Cam Newton (No. 37, QB, Carolina Panthers), and
  • Ben Roethlisberger (No. 43, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers).

The top-5 club is similarly small, with 11 players dominating the last six seasons. Tom Brady appears in the upper echelons of the annual ranking 5 times, followed by Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson with 4 appearances each.

Top NFL Players, by Licensed Retail Sales
Data Source: NFLPA
For 2013-14 through 2018-19 NFL Seasons
Rank 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
1 Russell Wilson Russell Wilson Tom Brady Ezekiel Elliott Dak Prescott Tom Brady
2 Peyton Manning Peyton Manning Peyton Manning Dak Prescott Ezekiel Elliott Dak Prescott
3 Colin Kaepernick Tom Brady Russell Wilson Tom Brady Tom Brady Saquon Barkley
4 Robert Griffin III Colin Kaepernick Aaron Rodgers Dez Bryant Russell Wilson Ezekiel Elliott
5 Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Dez Bryant Odell Beckham Jr. Odell Beckham Jr. Aaron Rodgers

The fastest-growing player this year was Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs) who made a historic climb to No. 7 from No. 42 on the Q2 2018-19 list, a jump of 35 spots. This marks the first time he has appeared in the top 10.

Five rookies appeared in the top 50 this season, led by:

  • Saquon Barkley (No. 3, RB, New York Giants),
  • Baker Mayfield (No. 26, QB, Cleveland Browns),
  • Sam Darnold (No. 40, QB, New York Jets),
  • Josh Allen (No. 46, QB, Buffalo Bills), and
  • Leighton Vander Esch (No. 47, LB, Dallas Cowboys).

Amongst the sales highlights provided by the NFLPA for the 2018-19 season:

  • Female fans helped propel young stars Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes to the top ranks; the two players led sales of all women’s apparel from G-III Apparel Group.
  • Brady, Carson Wentz (QB, Philadelphia Eagles), Barkley, Odell Beckham, Jr. (WR, New York Giants), and Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers) ranked as the top five in youth apparel from Outerstuff. Mack ranked No. 9, the highest of any defensive player.
  • Penn State fans again powered the former-Nittany Lion star Barkley to the top of collegiate co-branded wall decal sales by Fathead.
  • Among sales of collegiate co-branded jerseys from Under Armour, Mahomes’ Texas Tech jersey led all players.
  • Brady, Mahomes, Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas Cowboys), and Adam Thielen (WR, Minnesota Vikings) sold the most big head cutouts from Build-A-Head.
  • Three quarterbacks ranked among the top 10 in headwear from New Era—and amongst them, Prescott sold twice as much as Brady and Brees.
  • Mahomes unseated Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks) as the best-seller of licensed novelty products from Wincraft.
  • Brady and Rodgers sold the most player jigsaw puzzles by MasterPieces.
  • Beckham, Jr. led sales of cake toppers from DecoPac for a second straight quarter, followed by Brady and Antonio Brown (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers).
  • Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta Falcons) was the leader of player ornament sales this holiday season by Hallmark.
Top 25 NFL Players, by Retail Sales of Licensed Products
Data source: NFLPA. As reported by over 70 NFLPA licensees such as Nike, Fanatics, Outerstuff, Fathead, McFarlane Toys, FOCO, Wincraft, and Funko. Licensed product categories include men’s, women’s, and youth game jerseys and t-shirts; player murals; collectible figures; matted and framed photos; bobbleheads; drinkware; calendars puzzles; and holiday ornaments.
YTD 2018–19 Season (Mar. 1, 2018–Nov. 30, 2018)
Rank Player Position Team
1 Tom Brady QB New England Patriots
2 Dak Prescott QB Dallas Cowboys
3 Saquon Barkley RB New York Giants
4 Ezekiel Elliott RB Dallas Cowboys
5 Aaron Rodgers QB Green Bay Packers
6 Carson Wentz QB Philadelphia Eagles
7 Patrick Mahomes QB Kansas City Chiefs
8 Antonio Brown WR Pittsburgh Steelers
9 Deshaun Watson QB Houston Texans
10 Khalil Mack LB Chicago Bears
11 Russell Wilson QB Seattle Seahawks
12 Odell Beckham Jr. WR New York Giants
13 Adam Thielen WR Minnesota Vikings
14 Mitchell Trubisky QB Chigaco Bears
15 Rob Gronkowski TE New England Patriots
16 Drew Brees QB New Orleans Saints
17 Jimmy Garoppolo QB San Francisco 49ers
18 Zach Ertz TE Philadelphia Eagles
19 Alvin Kamara RB New Orleans Saints
20 Von Miller LB Denver Broncos
21 Kirk Cousins QB Minnesota Vikings
22 J.J. Watt DE Houston Texans
23 Todd Gurley QB Los Angeles Rams
24 Julio Jones WR Atlanta Falcons
25 Christian McCaffrey RB Carolina Panthers

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