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September 2, 2014

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Ice Ice Billy

Anthony Davis’ unibrow in for rude awakening

Frida Kahlo wishes she had Anthony Davis' agent.

Former University of Kentucky basketball player and National Basketball Association draft prize, Davis has trademarked two phrases that refer to his famous unibrow. "Fear The Brow" and "Raise The Brow" are now off the table to potential marketers and apparel companies.

Quasi-exhaustive Internet research confirms that uses for either phrase are limited, if not non-existent. Unless one has a dramatic and jutting hilltop to sell, there really isn't any use for such a slogan. But sports are different, and Davis will soon land in the starting lineup of someone's local NBA team this fall, morphing those phrases into revenue by adding thick black lines to shirts and hats poised behind storefront windows all around that metropolitan area.

Sports merchandising has, increasingly, become personality based. Whether Herb Brooks likes it or not, the name on the back of the uniform now has as much value as the name on the front.

This is great news for the second wives of most highly paid athletes, as there will be more cash to go around for said athletes' second divorces.

It may not be just about cash. Depending on the eventual value of Davis' actual facial feature, it could result in an awkward divorce settlement that would reveal itself during some future TNT telecast when one of his eyelids is exposed to the elements that lurk above.

Cue Charles Barkley.

The unibrow is unlikely to hold its very own cash value as a certain former Napoleonic attachment or Michael Jackson's burlap sack of Elephant Man bones. Nor is this predicting that Davis will be ungifted in the pursuit of everlasting love.

What I am saying, though, is that one with the foresight to trademark body-part-catch phrases should be aware that David Beckham insured his legs for $70 million, Rod Stewart insured his voice for $6 million, and Tom Jones insured his chest hair for $7 million. Yes, there is an insurable hair-precedent, and Davis should take note.

Of the unibrow, legs, voice and chest hair, one of these things is not like the others. All of the insurance policies cited covered physical assets, and not physical anomalies. Though I tried and tried, I could find no evidence that the late, great Marty Feldman had insurance in the event he woke up one Saturday and his eyes pointed in the same direction.

From the land of missed opportunity can be heard the wails of those celebrities that, although having a clear separation between two eyebrows, still had enough bush-power to claim a financial monopoly over those same catch phrases.

J.R. Ewing. Enough said.

Davis has as many eyebrows as he will have years in college, and the University of Kentucky says that during that uniseason they sent several cease-and-desist letters to shut down brow-related merchandise. But, as is often then case, market creativity became a challenge.

As Davis faces Thursday's life-altering NBA draft, he is best served accepting that the end runs around his legal efforts will never go away. A case in point: I had a baseball-themed Mead notebook when I was a child. Even to a 12-year-old, it was obvious that Mead had not paid a licensing fee to Major League Baseball or its players' association, because the guy on the cover of that notebook whose batting stance looked an awful like Pete Rose's hitting crouch wore number 14, and had a mustache.

Legally, there was no way that was Pete Rose. That guy had a mustache.

All it takes to navigate around Davis' savvy legal move is for some graphic artist to slap that unibrow on a present day image of Chris Mullen. It doesn't matter, Davis. They are going to get you.

One way or another, you will be brow-beaten.

Billy Johnson is the president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Wranglers.

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