Last Updated on January 1, 2024
The University of Alabama will face the Michigan Wolverines in a semi-final college football playoff matchup at the Rose Bowl today. Getting to this point in the season had been an unlikely journey for these two teams.
Although Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal has dominated headlines for most of the season, Alabama has faced challenges after losing at home to Texas in Week 2. After the loss, Alabama’s quarterback Jalen Milroe was met with criticism for his performance and was benched in Week 3 after throwing multiple interceptions against the Longhorns.
Milroe would eventually be named the starter again. as the season progressed. However, the Alabama signal caller revealed during a Rose Bowl presser that his offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, encouraged him to consider playing other positions besides quarterback.
When asked by a reporter how his offensive coordinator’s suggestion made him feel, so he responded by asking the question, “How would you feel if I told you ‘you suck?'”
Instead of letting his offensive coordinator’s critique damage his confidence, he seized every opportunity to prove him wrong with his play on the field, leading the Crimson Tide over their rivals, the Auburn Tigers, and securing an SEC championship over the then-No. 1 team in the nation, the University of Georgia.
Furthermore, Milroe decided to monetize his narrative through his themed apparel that donned an acronym LANK, which stands for “let a naysayer know.” It was an idea Milroe and Terrion Arnold came up with during the offseason, but it really took off after the loss to Texas.
According to SI, a few days before Christmas, Athlete’s Thread partnered with Milroe and Arnold to gift LANK shirts to each player on the team with their name and number on the back. Going forward, each player on the team can profit from the sale of shirts with his name and number.
Athlete’s Thread been using the platform provided by the Rose Bowl to host a LANK merch pop-up in Pasadena.
Come visit The Official LANK Store Popup in Pasadena by @JalenMilroe and @ArnoldTerrion , we had an amazing first day with Bama fans and amazingly heartfelt stories from @JalenMilroe and@ArnoldTerrion's families and fans on what LANK has meant to them this season, listen to what… pic.twitter.com/YbmJMtWhpj— Athlete's Thread (@AthletesThread) December 31, 2023
NIL has empowered athletes to be able to monetize their brand; however, when an athlete’s brand is closely related to a human struggle that we all sometimes face doubt coming from others on whether or not we can rise to the occasion, Milroe is reinforcing the idea that in the face of doubt and criticism, there is an opportunity to “let a naysayer know.”