June 25, 2010 8:30 AM ET
Now it's time to lean back and collect your cash, Mr. Isner
At long, long last, the John Isner-Nicolas Mahut Iron Man tennis match came to and end yesterday. A backhand by Isner ended it, as the American won the fifth set, 70-68. All in all, it lasted 11 hours and five minutes, spanned over three days, and reached 980 points. And what do Isner and Mahut have to show for it? Well, aside from what we can only assume are some Grade A blisters and a serious depletion of electrolytes, they both (along with chair umpire Mo Layani) got awards for playing the “Greatest Match Ever.”
Surely Messieurs Isner and Mahut will be getting a lot more than that in the coming days. And we’re not just talking about some free dinner from Andy Roddick (the things you learn when you read Patrick McEnroe’s twitter page). We’re talking endorsements! Playing a three-day tennis match might not be the same as winning eight gold medals or anything, but surely it’s worth some cred on Madison Avenue. Right?
After sweating for 11 total hours under the hot English sun, a deodorant endorsement seems like a no-brainer. But which one? Old Spice is out, if for none other reason than because the epic match was not played on a horse. How about Right Guard? Now there’s a brand for Isner-Mahut, what with their long history of athlete endorsers, and all.
Speaking of some old ads that need updating, how old is that Energizer Bunny by now? Surely he could use a spell from Isner and Mahut. Keep the format the same – start with a total cliché commercial – but instead of having the pink bunny interrupt, have Isner and Mahut hitting a ball back and forth. This is advertising gold here! You’re welcome, Energizer.
Of course, it won’t be all cars and sneakers and high-profile hygiene brands. Some endorsements will be decidedly more practical. Like the offer that’s surely in the mail from Emergency Medical Products, Inc. Wheaties might be the Breakfast of Champions, but we’re pretty sure there’s about to be a new IV Bag of Champions (or, second round Wimbledon participants as the case may be).
Or how about Lafayette Instruments polygraph machines? Why? Well, because there are some conspiracy theorists out there – Ken Pomeroy (the Basketball Prospectus guy) among them – who say this uber-long match was waaaay to much of coincidence. Ken tweets: “Put me down as suspicious about Isner/Mahut. It is so far off anything previously observed that it smells fishy.” When asked to explain, Pomeroy continued, “Neither is that interested in breaking serve. This is like an 80 inning baseball game. An unrealistic outlier.” Hmmm. This certainly does open the door for Isner and Mahut to use, then endorse, lie detectors. Whether or not taking the test confirms or denies Pomeroy’s twitter theories seems beside the point.
But you don’t have to think Isner and Mahut had ill intentions to admit that it was a pretty genius public relations move to be able to steal some thunder from the World Cup – on a day that featured the most important goal in American soccer history nonetheless. So forget the endorsement deals, Isner and Mahut should be flat out hired by one of those giant PR firms. If this whole tennis thing doesn’t work out, that is.