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Bowling for Dollars

January 31, 1988|Craig Modderno \f7

In the wake of fatmouth Jimmy the Greek's racial outbursts, we got to wondering if the Redskins black QB Doug Williams can get the same share of the commercial endorsement pie as his blond counterpart, John Elway of the Broncs. As starting QBs in today's Super Bowl, both are in the spotlight.

But who'll get the hot pitches?

We checked with Gordon Richman, Williams' attorney/marketing rep, who told us: "If the Redskins win and Williams has an MVP-type performance, he could make maybe a million or more dollars in endorsements. If they lose, he'll still get endorsements because he's making history as the first black quarterback who ever started a Super Bowl."

Williams' "wholesome" image is one of his pluses as a potential pitchman: "I'd like to see him do a guest appearance on 'The Cosby Show,' because that would be within the wholesome image Doug projects of himself."

Meanwhile, Elway's lawyer figures the handsome ex-Stanford Heisman Trophyite can cash in with more than $2 million--with a victory. A loss, said Marvin Demoff, could still get him a half million.

Said Demoff, who also handles Miami QB Dan Marino: "We've got several offers for John already, but since he makes a good salary (about $1 million a season), there's no hurry to cash in quick.

"You won't see John do laundry-detergent commercials, but I wouldn't discount anything dealing with outdoor equipment because that's part of his life style. I'd like to get deals that include his wife Janet, who's blonde and beautiful and a world-class swimmer. The trick is not to sell them as a cute couple like Mark and Suzie Spitz. Nobody needs the negative press they got."

So how come Elway's potential endorsement earnings top Williams'?

Offered Demoff: "Williams only started the last few games, and is nowhere near as well known as other quarterbacks. When Walter Payton and William Perry, who are both black, won the Super Bowl for the Chicago Bears two years ago, they made a lot of money because they had a high media profile going into the game."

Speaking of high media profiles, Demoff said Elway's already had opportunities to go Hollywood--with a three-pic deal from a "major studio," after the Super Bowl loss last year. But the first film's shooting schedule conflicted with Elway's football.

But Demoff is optimistic: "I think John would have done a movie like 'Three Men and a Baby.' He likes comedy and would be extremely excited if his Super Bowl performance resulted in an offer to host 'Saturday Night Live'!"

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