|USC Legends News|
Vince, Reggie and Matt still the darlings of the football crowd:
NFL rookies drawing significant attention to their teams
Vince Young, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, who forever will be linked by that magical Rose Bowl game five months ago, have started to add that same sparkle to their new pro teams.
And given their impact so far, who knows what might happen when any one of the three actually takes an NFL snap.
Need evidence of their impact?
ESPN, which carried all seven rounds of the draft on April 29-30, enjoyed record ratings and a 10 percent increase over last year's audience, which had been the benchmark. The network, which has broadcast the draft for 27 years, estimated that 36 million people caught at least a portion of the two-day show, in which Bush went No. 2 to New Orleans, Young No. 3 to Tennessee and Leinart to Arizona with the 10th pick.
Until last year, the 1993 draft had been the most popular among viewers, who wanted to see which quarterback — Drew Bledsoe or Rick Mirer — would be taken at No. 1. Ratings showed that 3.6 million television sets were tuned in to the proceedings.
Reebok, the official shoe and apparel sponsor for the NFL, got huge jumps in jersey sales. In the week after the draft, Reebok received 15,000 orders for Bush's jersey and 14,500 for Young's. The game-day jerseys sell for $75.
Since then, Eddie White, Reebok's vice president for team properties, said the company has taken an additional 7,000 orders for Young's jersey. That makes Young's the most popular rookie jersey since Reebok started keeping track of sales numbers five years ago.
"Definitely, Vince and Reggie are the two most popular rookies to have come out the last five years," White said. "They were in front of the country with the Rose Bowl, and the country noticed."
Leinart's jersey was a distant third, with 7,500 in sales. Still, that's about 3,000 more than last year's top choice, quarterback Alex Smith, who was selected by San Francisco.
Bush's jersey sales have lagged mostly because he literally has no number. The Saints have petitioned the NFL to lift the rule stating that running backs must wear numbers from 20 to 49 so that they may be easily identified by game officials. Bush has sported No. 5 since high school.
Players receive 6 percent of every jersey sale, and Bush has promised to donate 25 percent of his take to Hurricane Katrina relief.
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