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Ryan Braun lands first endorsement deal since 65-game suspension

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In yet another step for Ryan Braun as he attempts to repair his personal and professional image after being suspended 65 games by Major League Baseball for his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, the Milwaukee Brewers right fielder has signed on with 3N2, a small cleat company.

Financial details of the agreement were not revealed, but Braun, who was dropped by Nike in light of the scandal, likely will be making a fraction of what he earned before his reputation was tarnished, his marketability took a major hit and he became an unattractive endorsement commodity to companies.

From Nike to Wisconsin convenience store chains, companies were jumping ship and dropping Braun, leaving smaller, less established companies to fill the endorsement void.

According to an ESPN report, 3N2 trails major baseball cleat manufacturers such as Nike, adidas, New Balance and the like and does not have a major stake when it relates to the cornering of the market. According to SportsOneSource, 3N2 has 0.2 percent market share of the $220 million U.S. baseball cleat market.

The relationship obviously is beneficial to both 3N2 and Braun. For the company, it’s a major coup to land a major league baseball star, despite the controversy associated with his name. For Braun? Well, he has to start somewhere, right?

3N2 CEO Marty Graham reportedly told ESPN that the company reached out to Braun the day Nike dropped him on Aug. 2. Further, he insists he and the company have all the faith in Braun and that he will prove himself worthy of the company’s investment in him.

“We believe in Ryan,” Graham said. “We’ve all made mistakes and we’re all human beings. Our country is about second chances.”

Graham also indicated that Braun tried out the company’s cleats and has been wearing the shoes for all of spring training. Further, Graham also indicates he understands that 3N2 has a long way to go before it competes with the big boys.

“We’re very honest,” Graham said. “We’re not Nike or Under Armour, who do cleats and products across a variety of categories. This is who we are. Once Ryan has the year we think he is going to have, much of the past will be water under the bridge.”

Perhaps so. 3N2 apparently is not the only company willing to take a flier on Braun this season. With Nike dropping him, Braun also was in the market for a new batting glove. Franklin has stepped up and the Brewers slugger will be wearing gloves from the company’s “Natural II” line this season.

“He is one of the best players in the game and definitely will be out to prove himself this year,” said the company’s director of e-commerce, Adam Franklin.

With a slow trickle, Braun is on his way to establishing himself and his brand. Although any more utterly embarrassing comments from Braun like when he recently referred to himself as an “artist” won’t help him earn back the respect of fans and the interest of potential business partners.

Speaking of Braun characterizing himself as an artist, how great would it be if he signed on to endorse art supplies or a specific brand of kiln or whatever? Actually, it wouldn’t be that great at all. It would be pretty lame.  Never mind.

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