Lawsuit could taint Tom Brady's image

How will New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's involvement in suing the NFL impact his sterling image?

Ian R. Rapoport examined that question Monday with an interesting piece for the Boston Herald.

Brady is but one of 10 players involved in the lawsuit. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning are on it. So are Patriots guard Logan Mankins and Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller.

But Brady is listed as the first plaintiff alphabetically -- down to the third letter ahead of Brees. The legal custom is to shorten the case name by mentioning just the first plaintiff, so the lawsuit will commonly be known as Brady v. NFL.

Analysts believe the lawsuit will taint the all-universe quarterback's marketability.

"This dispute is going to, if it goes on much further, tar everyone involved with it," sports business consultant Marc Ganis told Rapoport. "And his name being first and foremost on what may turn out to be a divisive action is not a positive for him."

David Carter, the executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC, noted the types of sponsors who'd pursue Brady will be turned off.

"Most people that would invest in Tom Brady, they don't want to have anything to do with anything that reminds people that sports is big business," Carter said. "They don’t necessarily want athletes to take personal branding risks."

But I doubt any of that matters to Brady.

He has more money than he'll be able to spend in a lifetime. He's a transcendent athlete who appeals to an international audience as a celebrity, partly because of his supermodel wife, and probably won't be desperate for sponsorship dollars.

As Ganis and Carter pointed out, Brady's street cred among fellow players is respect you can't put a price on.