Mac Jones officially became “MJ10″ a little over a week ago, filling out all the legal boilerplate to set himself up in the pocket to profit off his line of clothes, footwear, and accessories.
We know the drill. We know that’s what big stars with big names do. Jones, today’s play-calling wunderkind of Route 1, is just getting out there before the fame fully envelops him.
Accessories, like chutzpah, are everything, and now knowing beyond all reasonable doubt that Michael McCorkle “Mac” Jones is full of the latter, I’m more eager than a blitzing linebacker to see all the merch he’s going to brand with his iconic “MJ10″ logo.
Hanukkah is here. Christmas is coming. Supply chain issues be damned, I hope there’s time for the shelves at Target and Walmart to be stacked deep with “MJ10″ stuff before shopping season is over. There’s trinkets to buy, stockings to stuff.
Now, mind you, like the merch, we’ve yet to see that iconic “MJ10″ logo. We’ve only seen the paperwork that tells us it’s coming.
More to the point, we’ve also yet to see the gifted 23-year-old Jones reach iconic status on the playing field. He’s just out there early, ready with the dry goods before filling out the career dossier. Way early. Monday night in Buffalo will be his 13th NFL game and his next TD pass will be the 17th of what so far has been a three-month career.
By the way, Monday night is an 8:15 p.m. start, if you’re budgeting your holiday shopping time. A souvenir “MJ10″ watch would be ideal for keeping tabs, getting in and out of the store on time, but that’ll have to wait. The “MJ10″ watch remains on back order.
For the record, it took onetime Patriots QB icon Babe Parilli until his eighth season in US pro football, his second with the AFL Boston Patriots, to throw for 17 TDs in a full season. He was 32 years old. That was a much different time, but for those of us holding on to our cherished “OhBabe15″ boxer shorts, pressed and neatly folded . . . there are no words.
Tom Brady, another Patriots quarterback, of some renown, didn’t package himself as “TB12″ until 2013, the year he turned 36. By that time, he already owned three Super Bowl rings from his time here.
Everyone knows the Brady logo now. For better or worse, and a few avocado smoothies on the side, we’re well accustomed to the health and nutrition lifestyle that the “TB12″ brand represents.
The message is clear: Load up with enough of his good stuff, follow all the Brady nutritional do’s and don’ts, and one day you could be wearing seven Super Bowl rings. Shazam! If not, you’ll at least live forever, which as consolation prizes go, that’s way better than a steaming bowl of “TB12″ wheat germ.
Athletes have been pushing goods forever, slapping their names on all manner of stuff for extra profit. No matter the era, timing always counts.
Bob Cousy, the legendary Celtic, factored merch into the timing of his retirement in 1963. The Cooz, then only 34 years old, still had plenty of game left. Had the parquet pay been better than $35,000 a year, well, the decision to leave would have been much harder.
“Look,” ol’ “BC14″ told me in 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his retirement, “if I had been making $18 million, they would have had to carry me off the floor.”
Remember, it was 2013, and $18 million sounded like a lot of money in the NBA in those days.
In ‘63, there was already a Bob Cousy basketball in the market place, and Bob Cousy sneakers. Had he stayed too long, Cousy knew a slip in his play could damage his ball and sneaker sales. Better to go out on top. Like the playing floor, he could read the market like no one else.
“Image was important then,” he said. “I was very conscious of that. I didn’t want to tarnish it.”
Not all of our athletes have been as timely or market savvy.
Former Bruins tough guy Stan Jonathan, a fan favorite here in the Don Cherry “Lunchpail” era, tried to cash in with his Jonathan’s Firewater roughly midway through his six-plus-year stay on Causeway Street. It was 86 proof Scotch whisky. I still own a sealed liter bottle of the good stuff.
Jonathan, a native North American born in Ontario, placed his official endorsement at the bottom of the label. To wit:
“This firewater was prepared and bottled under the supervision of ‘Break-U-Face’ Jonathan especially for all his drinkum scalpum braves, Six Nations Ontario.”
I’m not making up a word of that. In fact, in 2021, if I did make up a word of that, someone else would be filling this space right now. And I’d be breaking that seal on that liter bottle.
We do know sales didn’t go off the charts for Jonathan. Nor, best we can tell, were they boffo for Julian Edelman, Brady’s pass-catching pal. He followed Brady’s game plan with a line of “JE11″ clothing — caps, T-shirts, jeans, football gloves, and the like. Maybe there’s a there there for “JE11,″ but it’s proven hard to find.
No telling what will become of all the “MJ10″ textiles and assorted tchotchkes. We hardly know Jones yet, though we’ve begun to see some personality emerge as his game and the playbook have become more robust across the “NEP21″ recent six-game winning streak.
We have been left, as the comic Jerry Seinfeld noted years ago in one of his bits, to root for the laundry. The players come and go, faster than ever because of free agency and salary caps. That bright young quarterback poised for greatness can be selling us all his branded stuff in Foxborough one day, and be gone the next, before we’ve even learned how many p’s are in Garoppolo.
It looks today like Mac Jones is going to be here for a long time. He’s betting, and probably with good reason, there’s lots of bucks to be had by getting out ahead of his fame and staking his “MJ10″ claim ahead of the gold rush. It’s timely. It’s audacious. It’s hubris.
If that’s a little tough on the eyes, be patient, the “MJ10″ sunglasses are due soon in a sporting goods store near you.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.