If a lesser-known player wins the Super Bowl's award for most valuable player or is featured in some notable plays, "the agents have a small window of time to capitalize on that" because consumers generally have a short attention span, Maroon said.

The Super Bowl has launched players into the endorsement spotlight before. Last year's Super Bowl MVP, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, is this year's star of a State Farm insurance ad campaign.

Except for Rodgers' Super Bowl performance, "you wouldn't have seen that opportunity unfold," Burch said. "Now that campaign subsequently has introduced other teammates of his."

But Burch suspects that when State Farm signed the athlete last year, it "was betting on the Packers getting back to the Super Bowl."

Companies seek out athletes who will appeal to specific market segments and consider themselves lucky if they find someone with "crossover" appeal.

Sports apparel maker Under Armour looks for athletes who show leadership and hard work while excelling in a sport. Its roster of Ravens includes Lewis, Smith, defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and receiver Anquan Boldin, said Matt Mirchin, the Baltimore-based company's senior vice president of global sports marketing.

"There are a lot of great athletes, across sports, across genders," Mirchin said. "There are not that many that have the potential to cross over" and appeal to a bigger swath of the consumer market.

Lewis is credited with helping to expand Under Armour's reach from football to other sports. Other cross-over athletes are Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — who brought in $10 million in endorsements in 2011 according to Sports Illustrated — and Cam Newton, a Heisman Trophy winner and rookie quarterback for the Carolina Panthers signed by Under Armour last year.

Newton is "someone we can market multiple ways in multiple categories to multiple consumers," Mirchin said. "And both Tom and Cam are incredibly well-spoken, both winners, who are passionate about what they do."

Of the Ravens, Mirchin agrees that Rice, whom he calls a "great player and a hardworking kid," has a chance to shine commercially. "I'm sure the success the Ravens have enjoyed and are enjoying will allow him to establish additional [endorsement] relationships," he said.

And the opportunities may not be limited to the players.

If the Ravens end up in the Super Bowl and play the 49ers, coaches and brothers John Harbaugh (Baltimore) and Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco) would find themselves in the spotlight in a big way.

"Brother versus brother," Burch said. "You could have interesting marketing coming out of that. Who's to say whether they would be interested, but you could have a lot of fun with that."

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

Ravens players have endorsed

Ray Lewis: Under Armour, Old Spice

Ray Rice: M&T Bank, Gillette, Sheets energy strips,

Joe Flacco: Pizza Hut, Reebok, 1st Mariner Bank

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