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C.J. Stroud & Will Anderson Jr. Make NFLPA’s Rising Stars Top Ten

As they should...

NFL: Houston Texans Minicamp Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The NFLPA released its annual list of players expected to make the rockstar leap in 2023.


...insights to plan marketing campaigns, social media activations, player-driven content, brand ambassadors and product lines featuring a wider variety of players.

This essentially boils down to players the NFLPA expects to turn into cash cows for the NFL and its owners. The guys who will drive jersey sales, tickets, hats, dog sweaters and all the other things the league has found to slap it’s imagery and accompanying heavy licensing fees onto in order to appease fan hunger for pro football merch.


Washington, D.C. (June 7, 2023) – The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has revealed the 2023 NFLPA Rising Stars lineup, an annual compilation curated by NFL Players Inc., the marketing and licensing entity of the NFLPA. This roster showcases 10 rookies and 10 veteran players who are not only expected to have a significant impact on retail sales of officially licensed NFLPA player merchandise but are also projected to compete for the top spot on the NFLPA Top 50 Players Sales charts. This top spot has been dominated by Tom Brady for years, but these players have the potential to challenge his reign and claim that coveted position.

The rankings consider various factors that contribute to early sales popularity. These factors include on-field performance, early demand for content and marketing from NFLPA partners, fantasy league status, collegiate name, image and likeness deals, the players’ existing reach to a massive audience of fans, participation in Rookie Premiere, product submissions from over 90 NFLPA licensees, support from team fan bases, and emerging talent in strong markets. To be considered for the Rising Stars list, veteran players must not have appeared on any previous quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List, which is the only verified ranking of all officially licensed products from retailers.

The list, or lists as it were, feature 10 rookies and 10 veterans. While none of the existing Houston Texans players made the list, both C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. made the rookie spotlight.


The following rookies are expected to make a breakthrough in NFL player product sales:

1. Anthony Richardson, QB – Indianapolis Colts

2. Bijan Robinson, RB – Atlanta Falcons

3. Bryce Young, QB – Carolina Panthers

4. CJ Stroud, QB – Houston Texans

5. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR – Seattle Seahawks

6. Will Anderson Jr., EDGE – Houston Texans

7. Zay Flowers, WR – Baltimore Ravens

8. Jalin Hyatt, WR – New York Giants

9. Jordan Addison, WR – Minnesota Vikings

10. Joey Porter Jr., CB – Pittsburgh Steelers

For those curious about the rest of the announcement, here you go:


These players have demonstrated immense potential, capturing the attention of both fans and industry insiders. The Rising Stars list equips NFLPA partners, including licensees, retailers, and sponsors, with invaluable insights to strategize marketing campaigns, social media activations, player-driven content, brand ambassadorships, and product lines featuring a diverse range of players.

“Our NFL Players Inc. team is excited about the potential of all the rookies as they begin their pro journeys. We had the chance to meet an amazing group at NFLPA Rookie Premiere, and those in the Rising Stars top 10 made especially strong impressions on us and our partners,” said Steve Scebelo, President of NFL Players Inc.

Since 2015, an impressive total of 73 players have ascended from the ranks of the Rising Stars list to secure a position on the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales. This achievement speaks to the exceptional caliber of these athletes and their ability to captivate fans in the retail market. Although Brady’s retirement signifies the end of his inclusion in the list, his merchandise continues to be in high demand, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the NFL player retail market.

In summary:

Uncle Toro Wants YOU! to buy Stroud and Anderson Jr. gear.

Personally, I’m still in wait-and-see mode, although I did grab a battle red helmet to sit on my desk next to my deep steel blue one. Rules were set, exceptions were made, glory ensued. YMMV.