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By Published on .

It used to be that celebrity-seeking advertisers passed over those unknown, impersonal players of the National Football League, their faces hidden behind their Riddells, for those cute and cool basketball stars.

Not anymore. More and more marketers, from NFL sponsors looking to put a face on a league promotion to mere exposure-seeking advertisers, are tapping NFL players to represent their brands. The surge in face-time is due to a number of trends peaking and converging at once: an ongoing makeover of the NFL's image; a prime-time, player-focused promotional effort from the NFL's hip sophomore TV partner Fox; and a shift in strategy at sports marketing heavyweights Nike and Reebok International to aggres-

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