The current NFL player with the most number of views for ads is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, with 40.7 million views across two campaigns — one for Visa and the other for Pepsi, in which he starred alongside One Direction.
While Brees hasn't starred in as many campaigns as some other players in the top 10, his popularity is largely a result of the emotion that he elicits among football fans. He took up the QB spot in New Orleans in 2006, the season immediately following Hurricane Katrina. As the city was being rebuilt, Brees helped to rebuild the team; just three years later, he led the team to a Super Bowl win.
Quarterbacks are the most represented player on the list -- not surprising, since they are often one of the most visible players both on and off the field. Five of the 10 players on our list, including Brees, are quarterbacks. The others are Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, and Eli Manning of the New York Giants.
The second most represented position on our list is wide receiver, another star offensive position, one responsible for some of the most stunning plays. There are three wide receivers on this list: Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, and Hakeem Nicks of the Indianapolis Colts. Cruz is the player on the list with the most brand sponsorships; he has seven, including Pepsi, the NFL, Time Warner, Foot Locker, McDonald's, Nike, and Gillette.
The two players remaining – cornerback Richard Sherman and linebacker Clay Matthews – play for the two teams kicking off the season, the Seahawks and the Packers, respectively. In a battle of video viewership, Sherman easily beats out Matthews, 33.8 million views to 23.2 million views. Whether a Seahawks win will be that decisive, however, is another story.
Below are the top 10 NFL players by viewership as of Aug. 25, 2014. To compile this list, we looked at every campaign featuring NFL players from 2009 to the present and ranked their performance across hundreds of the web’s most visited video sites.
1. Drew Brees: 40,755,117 views
2. Richard Sherman: 33,843,218 views
3. Victor Cruz: 24,705,150 views
4. Clay Matthews: 23,297,261 views
5. Cam Newton: 22,735,265 views
6. Colin Kaepernick: 20,878,285 views
7. Julio Jones: 19,034,609 views
8. Peyton Manning: 17,444,848 views
9. Eli Manning: 14,628,705 views
10. Hakeem Nicks: 13,968,729 views
Of course, this list only includes players who are currently active in the NFL. If we included all players – past and present – Drew Brees would be knocked from the top of the list to No. 3. Taking the top two spots would be two Old Spice spokesmen, Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews, respectively.
Crews has generated more than 91 million views; Mustafa is nearing an impressive 100 million views. Unlike the players we've discussed, both of these men have generated their viewership by playing characters, not themselves, in branded videos.