Marcus Mariota, just hours after flaunting his Beats by Dre in one of the company's YouTube videos, donned the trendy headphones when picked second by Tennessee in the NFL draft Thursday night. The No. 1 pick, Jameis Winston, clutched a red pair of Beats when chosen by Tampa Bay.
The in-your-face issue: competitor Bose is the official headphone of the NFL.
Both were far from the action in Chicago — Mariota in Hawaii and Winston in Alabama. As prospects, they were free to embrace Beats any way they please, but they better watch out now in front of cameras on game days. That's a no-no under league policy.
In the Beats YouTube video, to the new soulful acoustic song "River" by Leon Bridges, Mariota gazes at the ocean, runs on the beach and works out in his old high school gym with his wireless Powerbeats2 in his ears. He fiddled with them with a big smile on his face and leis piled high around his neck when he was picked.
Beats, with a stable of athlete endorsers, welcomed Winston, Mariota and No. 4 pick Amari Cooper into the family with a tweet. Cooper also did not attend the draft.
The NFL protects its Bose contract closely and the company tweeted up a storm touting an ample pack of Bose-loving draftees. Among them: Dante Fowler, Brandon Scherff and Kevin White, the latter picked by Chicago at No. 7.
"Let's go Chi-Town! Already got the @Bose headphones to match the uniform. #HatHugHeadphones," White tweeted.
In all, 21 players in the draft were on Team Bose in the battle of the headphones.
As NFL players, all are permitted to have endorsement contracts with Beats and other companies that aren't league sponsors, but the league has cracked down on players in the past for wearing the competition's headphones.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has an endorsement deal with Beats, said he was fined $10,000 by the NFL for wearing a pink pair for breast cancer awareness at a press conference in October. He covered the logo up with tape at a later appearance.
Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, said the league's restriction on public display of Beats or the items of other non-sponsors applies only to post-game interviews.
"Players are aware of the policy. It's reiterated throughout the year, at the beginning of the season, and that's nothing new," he said.
Beats by Dre was acquired by Apple Inc. last year. A month later, the NFL reached the agreement with Bose to become the league's official headphones.
Seizing the draft limelight, Beats ran Mariota's video ahead of the action in a top-of-the-home-page banner advertisement — complete with shopping link — on espn.com.
Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pxz_NkUR7ASuggest a correction