From the early years of Peyton Manning's career, talk of overexposure on his marketing deals was prevalent.
In his first five years in the league, he had been paid to pitch Logo Athletic, Reebok, Nabisco, Hasbro, Rawlings, Sprint, Gatorade, First Tennessee Bank, a cereal brand called Famous Fixins and even the Tennessee Beef Council.
We asked then: How much could one guy really do?
But Manning never really stopped. When deals expired and weren't renewed, replacements were found by his tireless marketer, Alan Zucker of IMG. In came Sony, Kraft, DirecTV, MasterCard and Air Tran.
Once again, we asked, Hasn't he stretching himself too thin? After a while, isn't enough, enough?
But with Manning announcing his retirement on Monday, what has now become clear is that the endorsement deals he did and the ads he shot were actually more important than the checks that he cashed.
Manning was likable on the field for his skills as a quarterback, but he admittedly wasn't too exciting. What he said off the field was predictable and conservative.
But corporate America gave Manning the personality he rarely showed in public. It made fans outside of Indianapolis (and later, Denver) want to root for him. Brands sometimes boost athletes who endorse their products, but it can be argued that no one outside Michael Jordan has benefited more from having great scripts written for him than Manning. To his credit, Manning executed, revealing a side of his personality that fans wouldn't have known otherwise.
Here are some of his most notable commercials:
There were the MasterCard ads, the most famous one being the "Cut that meat!" spot, in which Manning cheers on people with everyday jobs.
The Sprint spots, including the one in which Manning donned a fake mustache to talk about himself.
The Gatorade spots, in which Manning showed kids the untraditional way he learned how to throw a football.
The DirecTV deal, in which Manning and his brother Eli did a music video.
And it's only fitting that he closed out his career with the most talked about one of the bunch: The "Chicken Parm" jingle spots from Nationwide.
Fans gravitate to players who they not only admire for what they do on the field, but also to those who appear cool to hang out with. Peyton never did social media, but through advertising over the years, fans got to see a side they never would have otherwise.