By Friday at 5 p.m., some 20 hours after the Browns traded up to No. 22 to take quarterback Johnny Manziel, the team’s ticket office sold more than 2,300 season tickets. So it’s no surprise that he also has the league’s top-selling rookie jersey, according to the NFL (viaOutsports.com).
Second behind Johnny Football: Michael Sam (7th round, 249 overall), the NFL’s first openly gay player. He’s followed by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (first round, first overall), and quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater (first round, 32nd overall) and Blake Bortles (first round, third overall).
“This is unprecedented for a Day 3 pick, let alone a seventh round pick, to crack the top five rookies sold following Draft weekend,” NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter said.
More amazing: Sam’s jersey didn’t go on sale until Saturday night while jerseys for Manziel, Clowney, Bridgewater and Bortles were all available Thursday when they were drafted six rounds earlier.
“We think this is a sign of what we’ve been saying all along, that Michael’s inclusion in the NFL is bringing fans into the game who weren’t previously consumers of the NFL game,” his agent Cameron Weiss, told ESPN.
I understand what Sam’s agent is trying to do, but a 7th-round pick making it onto the 53-man roster would be an impressive feat, no matter who the rookie is dating. And I don’t think Weiss has any evidence that Sam’s selection by the Rams has done anything to bring “fans into the game who weren’t previously consumers of the NFL.” If Sam makes the team, then we might see if his selection has done anything to expand the NFL’s reach. Until then, this is all hype.