Texas Tech quarterback Tyler Shough, with the help of Excel Sports Management and a local jeweler, broke new ground in the NIL universe in proposing to his girlfriend.
Former Oregon Ducks soccer player Jordan Wormdahl didn’t want to go on this photoshoot.
She was in Cabo San Lucas earlier this month with her boyfriend, Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Tyler Shough, and would have preferred to spend her vacation laying on the beach — but the man was insistent. He said he needed to get a few pictures of himself in some new outfits from a stylist he had been working with as part of an NIL deal. Summer was coming, after all, and his Instagram would need to reflect that.
So, Wormdahl tagged along and went through the motions of the shoot before Shough brought her down the beach, a little closer to the water. That’s when he revealed why they were actually there — not for the ‘Gram, but for a marriage proposal.
“I had to frame it as something else,” Shough said of the ‘fauxtoshoot.’ “It was kind of telling a little white lie. I’m not gonna just go on a random photoshoot on the beach just for no reason. I know that’s something we wouldn’t do.”
The pictures tell the story. Wormdahl said yes and the two are now engaged to be married, though the precise timeline for the exchange of nuptials is unclear, as Shough still has another year left at Texas Tech — two if he chooses to use his extra year of eligibility conferred by the NCAA due to COVID.
It’s a feel-good story from any angle, but how it came about is legitimately unique: Every part of this proposal process was powered by name, image, and likeness deals, coordinated by Shough’s team at Excel Sports Management. The stylist and photographer, yes, but most importantly, Thacker Jewelry in Lubbock, Texas provided the ring at a discount.
“I knew I wanted to propose to her soon,” Shough said, thinking back to how it all came about. “I knew there were some local jewelers around, so I just wanted to talk to them to see if there was any interest. They were very skeptical at first because they’d never done it before, either. But I was like, ‘hey, would you guys be interested in working together? I can post it throughout the whole process, give the pictures a tag, shout you out.'”
Thacker agreed, and once Texas Tech’s compliance office gave the go-ahead, Shough was able to plan his dream proposal using an avenue that no other athlete before him had been able to call upon.
“The whole process was very nerve-racking for me,” he said. “I was probably more nervous than I was playing football just because I was trying to make sure everything went smoothly.”
While Shough and Wormdahl have been through it all together — meeting at Oregon, becoming friends, eventually dating, and then relocating to Texas when Shough transferred — this pairing of the quarterback and a major name, image, and likeness breakthrough is a much less foreseeable marriage by comparison.
Shough did a few one-off NIL deals between last July and now, but for a quarterback at a Big 12 school in football-crazed Texas, he didn’t pepper his face all over Lubbock the way one might expect. Similar to how Thacker Jewelry was skeptical at first about working with Shough on this deal, Shough himself was skeptical about the entire NIL process at the start. Yes, he could make some money (and he did), but he was unsure of some of the particulars behind how it all worked, or “the newness of it,” as he described to Boardroom.
That’s when he found Excel to help him out.
Now that his team at Excel has helped him deliver the biggest deal of his life, he can set his sights on other deals. He lists apparel companies, beverage brands, and anything outdoors-y as opportunities he’d like to explore in the future.
Another important one: supporting breast cancer awareness. His mom is a survivor and Shough has already worked with sports equipment and apparel retailer Cardinal’s Sport Center on a t-shirt for breast cancer awareness month. He’d like to continue putting his face out there as a key supporter of the movement in and around the Lubbock community.
As football season gets closer, however, Tyler Shough is going to have to lock in as he tries to guide the Red Raiders through one of the toughest conferences in the country. And soon enough, there will be a wedding to plan.
Will NIL play a role there as well?
Okay, okay, he hasn’t thought that far ahead yet. But he leaves the possibility open, especially when considering how much goes into planning a wedding — photography, video, and flowers are just a few areas where NIL can provide an assist if the timing indeed fits.
“We haven’t really thought too much into it yet,” he said. “Honestly, the NIL part that’s the greatest benefit I’ve seen is just using it [for] things that I really am passionate about.”
A wedding sure would seem to fall into that category.