Greenville-based Everett Sports Marketing (ESM) has spent the last 13 years landing huge endorsement deals for NFL players like the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, the Cleveland Browns’ Nick Chubb, the New England Patriots’ Mac Jones and the Dallas Cowboys’ Will Grier.
Thanks largely to ESM, Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor snagged an eye-popping list of endorsements, from Toppers Pizza to Under Armour to Campbell’s Soup.
The company also run football camps for children, featuring players like Chubb and the L.A. Rams’ Sony Michel. It’s an enviable, selective list of clients and they’re growing fast. In 2020, they closed 21 marketing deals ahead of the NFL draft, scoring multiple endorsements for Taylor, Clemson’s Tee Higgins and UGA’s D’Andre Swift.
Not bad for a company that started as a side-gig for an electrical engineer named Dan Everett.
Everett, who runs ESM with his wife, Rachel, never had any intention of building one of the nation’s premier NFL player marketing companies.
“I was born in a really rural south Georgia town, and I graduated Georgia Southwestern with a chemistry and physics degree,” Everett says. “And then I ended up going to UGA as a transient student for my sophomore and junior summers.”
Through a mutual friend, Everett met UGA running back Danny “DJ” Ware, and a partnership flourished between the two men. It’s an unlikely story, but Everett essentially decided to get into the lucrative world of sports memorabilia and autograph signings, sight unseen.
“I went to different memorabilia and autograph signings that people were putting on,” he says. “I bought tickets myself. I was completely cognizant of everything that was going on, and then tried to go and replicate and improve upon that business model. So I was kind of self-taught. In 2007 I started a company doing memorabilia, and it eventually evolved into youth football camps. And through those two verticals, about nine years ago we started doing marketing representation for professional football players.”
At first, Everett represented players who weren’t necessarily well-known.
“Back then we were representing players who had just gotten out of the NFL or players who were late-round, non-skill position players,” Everett says, “the most challenging players you can possibly try to represent. And we did a really good job. We were accountable, creative, worked our tails off, and did things for them that they never expected, and every year it grew and every year we were able to sign more high profile players.”
The Everetts relocated the company to Greenville from Georgia 13 years ago.
“When I first moved here this was still a side hustle for me,” Dan says with a laugh. “I was still working in electrical engineering, designing transformers, and here we are 13 years later, we’re blessed with having one of the fastest-growing NFL marketing firms in the country. We love Greenville, it’s a beautiful town.”
In 2014, ESM landed two big names from the NFL draft, and they haven’t looked back since.
“We signed both (UofSC quarterback) Conor Shaw and (UGA quarterback) Aaron Murray,” Everett says, “two premier SEC quarterbacks, and even though they weren’t that high draft picks, they were both so marketable. And being able to go and over-service and over-deliver to those two guys allowed us to build a portfolio and recruit at the next level.”
Even as the company has grown, Everett Sports Marketing has kept its client list selective; right now, they’re working with 15 athletes.
“By keeping a small client roster and having a robust staff to support them, we’ve been able to do record-breaking deals that make headlines on a quarterly basis,” Everett says. “But it’s the little things; our clients can count on us day-to-day for anything they might need because there’s so much attention that they have from our staff. What we do is 55% relational and 45% performance. To do a great job you have to do both, but sometimes it’s about the relationship you’re building and the little things that are as important to these NFL superstars as procuring and executing marketing arrangements.”