As time passes, more former athletes and coaches with some degree of evergreen celebrity status in local markets are snagging gigs endorsing sportsbooks. The odds are those same sportsbooks will enlist the services of some Maryland sports celebrities when they launch in the state.
While there are a lot of possibilities with a tangible connection to MD, five former athletes seem to have the most potential here.
It may not be long before gambling companies announce adding these or others to their rosters.
Most marketable Maryland sports celebrities for sportsbooks
This is about more than just athletic achievement. If notable achievements were all that were required here, then Silver Springs native and former Baltimore Orioles player Brady Anderson would be an ideal candidate. He ended his career as the only MLB player besides Barry Bonds to record both a 50-home run season and a 50-steal season in his career at the time.
Anderson lacks the instant recognition that a sportsbook spokesperson needs, however. The five athletes on this shortlist definitely boast that with at least their names, if not their faces as well. In alphabetical order by last name, here are five former athletes that would be a huge win for any MD sportsbook to land.
Tyrone Curtis Bogues came into the NBA in 1987 as the shortest player to ever appear in the league at just 5’3″. Bogues was born in Baltimore in January 1965. He played his high school basketball at Dunbar High in Baltimore. There, former University of Maryland men’s basketball head coach Bob Wade developed his skills.
Bogues left MD to play his college and professional basketball but gained the affinity of Marylanders from afar during that time. From 1989-95, he finished in the top 10 of the league in assists per game annually. He also averaged a double-double in the 1993-94 season and led the Charlotte Hornets to the postseason three times in that stretch.
Bogues has been seen in pop culture recently, including a series of commercials for GoDaddy. He also appeared in the 1996 film Space Jam. His nickname and defiance of gravity despite his height would make him marketable for any MD sportsbook.
Lewis literally carried the offense during the Baltimore Ravens’ first Super Bowl-winning season. Despite being born in Georgia and playing his college football in Tennessee, his Ravens career makes him a Maryland sports icon.
Lewis played for Baltimore from 2000 through 2006. As a rookie, he was the primary ball carrier for a ground-heavy offense that claimed glory in Super Bowl XXXV. However, Lewis was only getting started in establishing himself in the MD sports lexicon.
In the 2003 season, he compiled the third-highest single-season rushing yardage total of 2,066 yards. During that season he also broke the single-game record for rushing yards at 295. On top of earning the AP Offensive Player of the Year award that season, Lewis is also a member of the Ravens’ ring of honor.
Lewis has not been in the public eye a lot since his NFL career ended. However, that means sportsbooks in Maryland could easily change that if Lewis is willing.
One of the reasons for Lewis’ success was perhaps the even more distinguished career of Ogden. Ogden was born and raised in nearby Washington, D.C. After becoming only the eighth player in UCLA football history to have his jersey number retired, he became the first-ever Baltimore Ravens draft pick.
He rewarded the Ravens for their faith in spades. Ogden reached 11 Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro nine times as an offensive tackle. Ogden spent his entire 12-year career with Baltimore. In 2013, Ogden became a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. That came a year after receiving the same honor from the College Football Hall of Fame.
Ogden appeared in many ad spots during his career. He also made a guest appearance on an episode of WWE Raw in 2000. Could a return to commercial endorsements be in his future?
It’s hard to top the most decorated Olympian of all time. Although born in Baltimore, Phelps grew up in Rodgers Forge, attending Towson High School. Phelps began his swimming career training at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
Between the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics, Phelps collected a total of 28 medals. 23 of those were gold. Phelps also set 39 separate records in the pool during his career. During the height of his career, Phelps counted several major corporations among his endorsements, including Kellogg and Subway.
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Last but certainly not least on this list of Maryland sports celebrities is the ‘Iron Man’ himself. Ripken made his debut in 1981 with the Baltimore Orioles, then appeared in an MLB-record 2,632 consecutive games through 2001. Ripken is also a member of the 3,000-hit club and hit over 400 home runs in his career.
In 2007, Ripken became part of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was born in Havre de Grace, MD, and played his entire major-league career for the Orioles. His father, Cal Sr., was also an Orioles player. In addition to winning the Rookie of the Year, Ripken was also an All-Star MVP, American League MVP, Gold Glove recipient, Home Run Derby winner, and World Series champion. Ripken stays active in Annapolis through his foundation.
Although there are other viable Maryland sports celebrities for gambling companies to contract with, it would be difficult to top the athletes on this list. Their visibility along with ties to the state make them arguably the most qualified for the job.