Kansas City Chiefs  

 

Naming rights: Chiefs CB Flowers deals with Killer problem

AP
Brandon Flowers of The Killers (left) is more popular nationally than the Chiefs CB with the same name.


 

Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers has a problem.

It has nothing to do with his team, riding a four-game hot streak after Monday's crazy win against the Chargers. Nothing to do with his career, either. With four interceptions already this season, his rise toward elite status continues.

No, it's about his name. More appropriately, it's somebody else's name.

Remember the scene in Office Space when a bitter employee, Michael Bolton, explains how his name was perfectly fine until "that no-talent assclown became famous and started winning Grammys?"

Well, Flowers isn't suggesting The Killers (a Grammy-nominated band led by, you guessed it, Brandon Flowers) is a talentless band with a clown for a front man -- but the issue is the same. And it's all in the name.

"I'm in the shadow of Brandon Flowers of The Killers right now!" the Chiefs' version laughed Thursday during our phone conversation. "Every time I go onto Google to look for any action pictures of me, Brandon Flowers of The Killers pops up."

It's true. Try it. Type "Brandon Flowers" and click "Images" and you won't run across a photo of the cornerback until the 80th picture. And there's not another one until the 123rd. Instead, they're all of the musician, whose band has sold over 15 million albums worldwide.

"I get it all the time on Twitter, too," the Chief said. "I'll get tweets all the time saying I'm their favorite artist, telling me all about their favorite songs."

But we're not here to annoy Flowers by immaturely mocking this completely tiring coincidence. We're all grown-ups here. No, we're here to help combat this issue of mistaken identity, while also showing Flowers that he's not alone.

Bears QB Jay Cutler shares his name with one of the world's top bodybuilders.
Bears QB Jay Cutler shares his name with one of the world's top bodybuilders. (Associated Press)

And we started by calling Jay Cutler. Maybe you've heard of him. He was named Mr. Olympia four of the past six years as one of the world's best bodybuilders. Cutler, as much as anyone, can empathize with having his own success overshadowed.

"It happens every single day," Cutler said. "I was at a nutrition store in North Carolina, signing autographs for bodybuilding fans, and this guy comes into the store with a Jay Cutler football jersey for me to sign."

Cutler often tries to look at the bright side, like the increased traffic directed toward his website, JayCutler.com, a domain name he reserved well before the football player became famous. The Bears' quarterback settled for JayCutlerSix.com.

But also consider the downside:

After the Bears' Cutler was hugely criticized for nursing an injury on the sideline while his team lost the NFC Championship game in January, the bodybuilder's e-mail inbox was flooded with harsh words.

"I had at least 100 e-mails the next day basically telling me that I'm a quitter and a disgrace," said Mr. Olympia. "But I had some good mail, too. Some people said they would support me all the way."

Cutler, the quarterback, certainly gets the good end of this deal: There are worse things in the world than having Mr. Olympia occasionally pop up when someone Googles your name. But Flowers has a different scenario to deal with.

Not only is he seriously overshadowed when it comes to Google search results, he's not sure how easy it will be to ever overcome this problem.

"Brandon Flowers is a famous artist," said, well, Brandon Flowers. "He gets a lot more attention than an athlete. And I'm sure it's well deserved. But I just need to keep doing my best on the field to see if it adds up."

Flowers is right: Another six or seven interceptions during the second half of this season should help do the trick for the Chiefs' cornerback.

Heck, wide receiver Brandon Marshall on Wednesday said Flowers is one of the league's "top five or top six" cornerbacks after less than four seasons in the NFL. Props like that should tell you a lot about his potential.

There still must be more that Flowers can do to get the World Wide Love that he deserves. To help, we reached out to Lauren Oropeza, a search engine optimization specialist.

Oropeza, a Google AdWords certified professional, agrees that Flowers' best shot at Google-killing the Killer will be in part dictated by the football player's success. But spreading his wings into different mediums away from sports, while also marketing himself more nationally than regionally, might make a big difference as well.

"With increased brand exposure, awareness, conversation and interaction on the web surrounding Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs player, there will more web content and, therefore, more ways in which to be found," Oropeza said. "If content on the web is interesting enough, it may go viral via social media, which allows for news and information to be easily shared and spread faster than ever."

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And if Flowers wants to know the first-hand impact of expanding his brand, he can also just ask Tom Brady for advice. No, not that Tom Brady. Instead, we're talking about NFL.com's very own Tom Brady, who is the director of programming and production for NFL Media.

"You'd have to live in a hole if you don't know who Tom Brady is," one of my bosses told me in an incredibly awkward interview Thursday. "At least with Brandon Flowers, you have to be a fan of The Killers to know who he is. But Tom Brady has permeated every part of culture: Football, fashion and entertainment."

As a result, Brady has to deal with the lame jokes on a constant basis, including the lamest one of all: "How's Gisele?" He hears the lines from everyone -- including men and women -- to the point where he says he's grown numb to it.

Buried within Brady's own cringe-worthy anecdotes about being confused for the ultra-successful quarterback, though, is an important lesson for Flowers as he moves forward:

Keep succeeding. Keep making interceptions. Keep rising as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. And soon enough, The Killers' Brandon Flowers will be the one wondering how a football player from Kansas City managed to steal his shadow.

"One day, maybe I can get onto his level," Flowers said. "We'll see."

Or maybe, just maybe, he can even surpass it.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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