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11 Athletes Who Had Their Own Cereals

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Plenty of athletes have adorned boxes of Wheaties. But only the best can take it a step further and market a brand of cereal dedicated entirely to themselves. Several athletes have used a limited edition cereal line to raise money for their favorite charities or boost their profiles -- here are 11 of the stars that managed to work their way onto the breakfast table

1. Flutie Flakes

Buffalo Bills quarterback Doug Flutie released his brand of corn flakes cereal in 1998 to raise money for autism awareness in honor of his son, who is autistic. The cereal ended up being a hit, selling more than 3 million boxes (Flutie eventually branched out into other foods, including a fruit snack called Flutie's Fruities). But the Flakes were also the center of controversy when then-Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson used them to celebrate a playoff win over Flutie and the Buffalo Bills. Celebrating in the locker room, Johnson slammed a box of the cereal on the ground and let his players dance and stomp on the flakes. Flutie objected, saying it was akin to stomping on his son and got Johnson to publicly apologize.

2. Votto’s

This season, Cincinnati Reds fans will be able to share breakfast with team star – and 2010 National League MVP – Joey Votto, thanks to his new cereal, Votto’s. The cereal is being sold at Krogers stores in the Cincinnati area. And the flavor? “It’s basically Cheerios,” said Votto at one promotional appearance, according to a report.

3. Fastball Flakes

With an eye towards breaking Flutie’s sales record, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander also announced this spring that he’ll be launching his own line of cereal. Verlander based the cereal on Frosted Flakes (his favorite cereal) and actually requested that the cereal be unhealthy because he likes to eat junk food before his starts. Despite his request, the cereal is fat-free.

4. Ochocinco’s

The toasted oat cereal honoring then-Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (formerly Chad Johnson) isn’t much remembered for its taste or nutritional value. Instead, the legacy of Ochocinco’s will be its accidental endorsement of a phone sex line. A phone number printed on the box was supposed to send shoppers to the main line of Feed The Children, the charity benefiting from the cereal sales. But manufacturers put the wrong prefix on the number and instead printed the bawdy number. When news of the accident broke, Ochocinco took to Twitter to say he was “bummed” about the mixup and asked “of all numbers why that one!!!”

5. Eckso’s

Eckso’s were not named after Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, but instead journeyman David Eckstein. Having won a World Series with the Angels and a second with the St. Louis Cardinals, Eckstein was a fan favorite for his scrappy play. That led to his cereal line in 2005 -- a brand of honey nut toasted oat O’s similar to Votto’s and Ochocinco’s.

6. Tommy Gun Flakes

After wandering around the NFL for years and playing in the Arena Football League and XFL, Tommy Maddox resurfaced with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2001. He led the Steelers to the playoffs that year, amassing a 10-5-1 record. After that season, he was also rewarded with the launch of Tommy Gun Flakes, a play on his nickname "Tommy Gun." Maddox had a disappointing 2002 season and was soon replaced by Ben Roethlisberger, but unopened boxes of his cereal can still be found online.

7. TO’s

Before he and Ochocinco teamed up for a season in Cincinnati, Terrell Owens actually mirrored him by launching his own cereal brand. The TO’s brand came out when TO joined the Buffalo Bills in the 2009 season and features a rather cryptic picture of TO flexing his bicep around a blown-up piece of cereal.

8. Warner’s Crunch Time

While with the St. Louis Rams, Kurt Warner was a part of the Greatest Show on Turf, winning two MVP awards and a Super Bowl. His rise from the Arena Football League and ascension from backup to starting star also made him a hit with fans. To capitalize, Warner put his face on a frosted corn flakes cereal called “Warner’s Crunch Time,” with proceeds going to Camp Barnabas, a Missouri camp for disabled children.

9. Buckeye HerOes

Coming off a successful 10-2 season in which they shared the Big Ten championship and won the Fiesta Bowl, the Ohio State Buckeyes expanded their already massive brand with the cereal Buckeye HerOes. Other universities had tried the cereal gimmick before, but OSU dwarfed their efforts by producing 75,000 boxes. School officials said they couldn’t get the cereal to be in the shape of the school’s traditional block O, so instead they had to go with the traditional round O. The school has also branded several other food items from pasta to hot sauce, so it's possible for a fan to plan an entire meal around the Buckeyes.

10. Ed's End Zone O's

A three-time Super Bowl winner, wide receiver Ed McCaffrey had most of his success when paired with John Elway on the Denver Broncos. While with the team, he also released his cereal brand: Ed’s End Zone O’s, as well as putting his face on a line of gourmet mustards and a horseradish sauce. Elway would also come out with a cereal line: John Elway's Comeback Crunch.

11. Lynn Swann’s Super 88

Named after his jersey number, Lynn Swann’s Super 88 cereal was released to honor the former Steelers star on his induction to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001. The proceeds from the cereal went to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters charities, as well as to fund scholarships to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Why the ballet scholarships? Swann used to study dance.

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What's the Kennection? #159
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11 Classic Facts About Converse Chucks
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Converse’s Chuck Taylor sneakers have been around since the early 20th century, but they haven’t changed much—until recently. In 2015, The Chuck II—a new line of Converse that looks much the same as the original shoe but with a little more padding and arch support—hit stores. In honor of the kicks' staying power, here are 11 facts about Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.  

1. They were originally athletic shoes. 

The Converse All-Star debuted in 1917 as an athletic sneaker. It quickly became the number one shoe for basketball, then a relatively new sport (basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891, but the NBA wasn't founded until 1946). By the late 1940s, most of the NBA sported Chucks. They remain the best-selling basketball shoes of all time, even though very few people wear them for basketball anymore. (Many teams switched to leather Adidas in the late ‘60s.)

2. Converse previously made rain boots.

The company started in 1908 as a rubber shoe company that produced galoshes.  

3. The All-Star design hasn’t really changed since 1917.

The updated Chuck II is Converse’s first real attempt to update its flagship product since the early 20th century. The company is understandably reticent to shake things up: All-Stars make up the majority of the company’s revenue, and like any classic design, its fans can be die-hards. In the 1990s, when the company tried to introduce All-Stars that were more comfortable and had slightly fewer design inconsistencies, hardcore aficionados rebelled. “They missed the imperfections in the rubber tape that lines the base of the shoe,” according to the Washington Post. The company went back to making a slightly imperfect shoe.

4. Chuck Taylor was a basketball player and trainer ...

Chuck Taylor in 1921. Image Credit: North Carolina State University via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Taylor was a Converse salesman and former professional basketball player who traveled around the country teaching basketball clinics (and selling shoes) starting in the 1920s. His name was added onto an ankle patch on the sneaker in 1932

5. ... And though he sold a lot of Chucks, he wasn't always a great coach.

Taylor is in large part responsible for the shoe’s popularity with athletes (the company rewarded him with an unlimited expense account), but his training advice wasn’t always the best. As former University of North Carolina player Larry Brown told Spin in an oral history of the shoe:

My greatest memory of Chuck Taylor—probably ’61 or ’62—is that he told Coach [Dean] Smith that he’d make us special weighted shoes in Carolina blue. The idea was that we’d wear the weighted shoes in practice, and then during the games, we’d run faster and jump higher. Well, we tried them for one practice and everyone pulled a hamstring.

6. Converse didn’t intend for their shoes to be punk.

“We always thought of ourselves as an athletic shoe company,” John O’Neil, who oversaw Converse’s marketing from 1983 to 1997, told Spin. “We wanted to sell a wholesome shoe.” The company was still touting its shoes as basketball sneakers as late as 2012, and some of its non-Chucks sneakers still have pro endorsers.

7. The company owns a recording studio.

Finally embracing its role in the music scene, the company launched Rubber Tracks, a Brooklyn-based recording studio where bands can record for free, in 2011.

8. Not all the Ramones were fans. 

Chuck Taylors are associated with punk rockers, especially the Ramones, but not everyone in the band wore them. “Dee Dee and I switched over to the Chuck Taylors because they stopped making [the style of] U.S. Keds and Pro-Keds [that we liked],” Marky Ramone told Spin. “Joey never wore them. He needed a lot of arch support and Chuck Taylors are bad for that.”

9. Chucks were initially only high tops. 

In 1962, Converse rolled out its first oxford Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Previously, it had just been a high-top shoe. Four years later, the company would introduce the first colors other than black and white.

10. Rocky ran in them.

In 1976, All-Stars were still considered a viable athletic shoe. If you look closely at the training montage from Rocky, you’ll see the boxer is wearing Chucks. 

11. Wiz Khalifa loves them. 

The rapper named his record label Taylor Ganag Records, in part due to his appreciation for Chuck Taylors. In 2013, he launched a shoe collection with Converse featuring 12 styles. 

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