On the heels of signing a $140 million contract extension and becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL in the process, Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson thought of the little people in his life — who actually happen to be massive.
The quarterback gave each of his 13 current offensive linemen $12,000 in Amazon stock, a gift that cost him $156,000 in all.
“When I sat down to think of ways to honor your dedication a dozen different ideas came to mind,” Wilson wrote in a letter to his lucky teammates. “Some were flashy, some were cool, but I wanted to give you something that had a lasting impact. Something that would affect the lives of you, your family, and your children. You have invested in my life … this is my investment into yours.”
Given that Amazon is building an empire which will likely require us all to become Prime members in order to exist in the universe (unless Google, Walmart or Bernie Sanders gets in the way), Wilson’s already generous gift could prove to be even more valuable down the road.
But is it the best benefaction a player has ever bestowed on his teammates?
We did a little digging to find out and came up with a list of 11 of the winningest gifts which have been exchanged between pro athletes in recent memory.
Remember: It’s the thought, and the price tag, that counts.
11. Carson Wentz – Beretta Shotguns
During his rookie year, Wentz decided to endear himself to his new O-line by buying each of them a Beretta shotgun for Christmas. Wentz, a hunter, also had the weapons personalized with each player’s number engraved on the butt of the gun. Following the season, Wentz also took his guys hunting so they could test out their fancy firearms.
10. Adrian Peterson – Snowmobiles
After winning the NFL’s MVP award in 2012 when he rushed for more than 2,000 yards during the regular season, Adrian Peterson gave the members of his offensive line Arctic Cat snowmobiles. Decked out with the Viking logo, each of the snowmobiles was personalized with each linemen’s uniform number.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo – Bulgari Watches
After Real Madrid won La Décima — the club’s tenth European Cup — in 2014, Cristiano Ronaldo gave out personalized Bulgari watches worth about $10,000 apiece to each of his teammates. Prior to that, he also bought all 50 members of the team’s coaching staff iPads.
8. Joe Flacco – VR Systems
While he was still playing for the Baltimore Ravens, current Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco gifted each of his nine offensive linemen a virtual-reality package containing an Oculus Rift and Alienware gaming laptop for Christmas. Between the headset and gaming processor, each one of the systems was worth around $2,000. “Every year you’ve got to do a little something different. It’s actually a lot of pressure,” Flacco said afterward. “I try to get it out of the way earlier and earlier every year and make sure it’s just taken care of. “
7. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley – Polaris Rangers
A year after gifting them Yeti coolers and Hennessey, LA quarterback Jared Goff got his starting offensive linemen Polaris Ranger side-by-side vehicles. So Goff didn’t have to foot the bill all by himself, Rams running back Todd Gurley also pitched in because he reaps the benefits LA’s O-line sews as well.
6. Eli Manning – Custom Jeans
Ok, so at first glance this might not seem like the coolest gift. But consider how hard it must be for offensive lineman to find pants that fit them comfortably that aren’t sweats. “He’s giving each of us custom jeans,” a Giants offensive lineman told NJ Advance Media about Manning’s gift. “It was pretty cool, he brought in a tailor, measured us all up and everything. I’ve never had that many measurements or anything like that. I’ve never even owned a pair of custom jeans, so it’s cool.” Also, considering he was sacked 47 times last year, it’s hard to blame Manning for not going with something better than personalized pants.
5. Aaron Rodgers – Polaris Generals
After previously hooking them up with presents like flat-screen TVs, tablets and golf clubs, Aaron Rodgers decided to step his gift game up in 2017 and gave his offensive line Polaris Generals. Given to the linemen during OTAs at Lambeau Field, the ATVs were worth about $20,000 a pop when new. Polaris “partnered” with Rodgers on the thank-you gifts, so he likely got a discount on the pricey off-roaders.
4. Michael Jordan – Team Bus
While he was playing baseball in the minor leagues in 1994 for the Birmingham Barons following his first retirement from the NBA, Michael Jordan wanted to ride his team to ride in style. So, Jordan spent $350,000 on a new bus for the Double-A squad and outfitted the 35-seater with six televisions, a VCR and a lounge in the back.
3. John Wall – Rolexes
Since the Wizards were going to be taking the court instead of being home with their families on Christmas in 2017, John Wall opted dull the pain by giving his 15 teammates personalized Rolex watches a few days before the holiday. Valued at $40,000 each, Wall dropped at least $600,000 on the timely gifts.
2. Peyton Manning – Handwritten Notes
Sometimes it really is the thought that counts and the elder Manning is clearly a thoughtful guy. Though not always written to teammates, Manning made a habit out of writing notes to peers he had played both with and against when they were retiring from the NFL. “So few NFL players get to retire as much as they are retired,” Manning said of the practice in 2013. “All of a sudden nobody calls, and that’s kind of it. It’s on a Wednesday in the middle of May, on the ticker: ‘So-and-so, after 15 seasons, has retired.’ And that’s kind of it. It’s just so sudden … I kind of want to let the guy know that, hey, it’s your career, I have a great appreciation and respect for it, and it’s more than just a little ticker there. I know his family is telling him that, but I want to let him know there are some outsiders thinking that too.”
1. Tom Brady: Audis
To thank them for helping him stay upright during an undefeated regular season as well as for giving him a hand with his Best Buddies charity, Tom Brady gave the trio of teammates who attended his fundraising event Audi Q7 SUVs. “Now you’ll be well protected, just like you make me feel … sometimes,” Brady joked at the time. (The event was after the Pats lost the Super Bowl to the Giants, the first time.) The utility vehicles were much better gifts than the Uggs Brady usually hands out around Christmastime.