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Vernon Davis: Building His Brand

Vernon Davis raised a few eyebrows recently when he reportedly asked for a new contract. In addition to that, he has not reported to any of the voluntary organized team activities (OTAs). The San Francisco 49ers have put together a wide receiver group that will allow them to use more three receiver sets. One has to wonder if Vernon fears that his production may drop off and that will limit his bargaining power when it comes to his next contract. Vernon was asked about this and he simply said that he is building his brand.

What exactly does Davis mean when he says that he is building his brand? He was on ESPN and touched on one way that he is building his brand through a company called Fantex which trades shares of professional athletes.

[airesizeimg src=”$-300×168$.gif” alt=”vernon-davis-fantex” class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-4939″ ]“Fantex is a brand building entity that focuses on the broader aspects of building your brand. When I think of young guys, I think that every young guy needs to be the CEO of their own brand. That’s the problem we are having now days, guys aren’t stepping in and investing in themselves. A company like Fantex is willing to step up and help the next young man go from here to there. You can buy shares of Vernon Davis.”

You can check out how to invest in Vernon Davis here: Vernon Davis Fantex Profile

As for his current contract, it is right in line with some of the top tight ends in the NFL. Jimmy Graham will reset the market when he signs his next contract. Jordan Cameron will get a pretty lucrative deal as well. Here is a breakdown of how Vernon Davis’ contract compares to Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates:

Gates: 5 year / $36.18 million contract with the San Diego Chargers, including a $4,575,000 signing bonus, $8,800,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $7,235,000.

Witten: 5 year / $37 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys, including a $12,500,000 signing bonus, $13,532,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $7,400,000.

Gronkowski: 8 year / $55.23 million contract with the New England Patriots, including a $8,000,000 signing bonus, $13,170,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $6,903,750.

Davis: 5 year / $36.75 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers, including a $10,000,000 signing bonus, $11,112,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $7,350,000.

Looking at this, you will see that Davis has the second highest signing bonus, the third highest guaranteed money and the third highest annual average salary. His contract has the third highest total value also. It is accurate to say that his contract is fair in comparison to the other deals. His contract has two more years left on it so it is very unlikely that he will have it redone this year.

The role that Davis has played within the 49ers offense and how much Colin Kaepernick relied on him in the Super Bowl two years ago along with the time that Michael Crabtree was hurt definitely shows that he is a key part of the 49ers offense. The things that the 49ers can do with Davis are almost unfair. He is too big and strong to be covered by a defensive back and he’s too fast to be covered by a linebacker. Simply put, Vernon Davis is a match-up nightmare.

There are some statistics that back this as well. He led all tight ends with 16.3 yards per reception. His 13 touchdowns was also more than any other tight end except Jimmy Graham. The 2011 season truly showed how valuable Davis is. There were times when it was clear that opposing defenses where selling out to stop him and simply couldn’t. He averaged 146 yards per game. Davis scored four touchdowns in the 2011 post season. He accounted for six plays of twenty yards or more along with his three plays of forty yards or more. No other player including wide receivers had more explosive plays.

Some are saying that Davis is not attending OTAs because he wants a new deal. He has stated that the reason for his wanting a new contract is that he wants to retire as a 49er. He made that clear when he spoke to the San Jose Mercury News. “I’ve always wanted to retire as a 49er. I’ve expressed that to them. Before the season was over, we discussed my interest in wanting a new contract.”

There are others who think that Davis may be away from 49er headquarters for quite some time. That may be the case. He was asked about attending mandatory mini camp on ESPN.

“I would love to make it a lot better. I look at everything that’s going on and everyone asks me the question about OTAs. It’s not mandatory. I’m just taking it one day at a time right now. I strongly believe that I will be at mandatory mini camp. Anything is possible, anything can change, you never know.”

Davis has firmly entrenched himself within the Bay Area. He has said that he wishes to retire as a 49er. He has a very successful Jamba Juice franchise that is near the 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara. Davis has been known to make pop up appearances at his location and he has even been on hand to serve his products to fans. He clearly is making an effort to build his Jamba Juice brand. That is shown by how he has his name on the sign that is outside of the building

[airesizeimg src=”×450$-300×225$.jpg” alt=”Vernon-Davis-Jamba-Juice-2-600×450″ class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-4938″ ]“I thought it’d be a perfect fit for me, and everything I believe in. I believe in a healthy lifestyle and being active, as well as putting the right things in your body. Everything I believe in is in the same thing Jamba Juice believes in.”

Even more significant is his art foundation based out of Santana Row. The Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts was created “to promote art education and art appreciation among youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. We fulfill our mission by providing scholarships to dedicated art students and grants to deserving nonprofit programs who share in our ideals.” One of the features is the Gallery 85 which has evolved into a large event.  

Vernon Davis builds his brand every time he walks into a room or interacts with another person. He has a charisma to him. It’s clear that his comments are always well thought out before he says them. He is very well spoken and handles the more difficult questions with ease.

The 49ers surely know the importance of having a reliable target like Davis for Kaepernick, their young quarterback that they just signed to a long term deal. They understand his role in stretching the field and always being a player that the opposing defense has to know the whereabouts of. His role even extends to the running game. Quietly Davis has evolved into one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. He has a selfless attitude that allows him to buy into the team concept instead of padding his own statistics. Put him in one of the wide open offenses such as the New England Patriots or New Orleans Saints and you will see some video game like numbers.

It is easy to say that Davis has built his brand pretty well. Whether it be his football camps back home in Washington D.C. or his being named as an honorary captain for the USA Olympic curling team, Davis has established himself as one of the league’s more recognizable players. He will continue to add to his legacy as the 49ers continue to win more games. It is hard to not pull for Davis to keep being successful but it is crucial for him to remain one of the leaders on the 49ers which is hard to do if he isn’t present at mandatory OTAs. He knows this and that’s why I am confident this he will be at 49ers headquarters soon.

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