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The NIL era has led to a lot of unique partnerships between athletes and organizations. None, though, stand out like a recent deal in Indiana.
A group of five Notre Dame athletes agreed to the first-known agreement with a house of God. The event will be held on Super Bowl Sunday. Rather, ‘Souper’ Bowl Sunday.
County Line Church of God in Auburn, Indiana, is located one hour and 47 minutes from South Bend. It announced earlier this week that it will host “5 Division I college athletes” for autograph sessions after each service on Feb. 12 and released the names, but did not share what school they play for.
All five athletes involved in the NIL deal play for the Fighting Irish.
- Tobias Merriweather — Football, Freshman Wide Receiver
- Holden Staes — Football, Freshman Tight End
- J.D. Bertrand — Football, Senior Linebacker
- Nate Laszewski — Basketball, Graduate Forward
- J.J. Starling — Basketball, Freshman Guard
The NIL autograph session will take place after the 9:30 a.m. service and 11:00 a.m. service. It is sponsored by Brad Dove Realtor – Keller Williams Realty Group, based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana (30 minutes from the church), and comes as part of a larger event for a charitable cause.
On ‘Souper’ Bowl Sunday, County Line will take a different approach to its services.
Don’t miss our ONE-OF-A-KIND Souper Bowl XIV Service. This service mimics the Super Bowl and is packed with fun elements, including Live Announcers, Game-Time Snacks, Original Souper Bowl Commercials, a Spectacular Halftime Show, a Fun Zone for Kids, and lots of surprises.— County Line Church of God
Here are a few examples of ‘Souper Bowl’ commercials past:
Merriweather, Staes, Bertrand, Laszewski and Starling will be available for autographs through NIL after the conclusion of the services. In addition, County Line is holding a food pantry drive.
Each year during our Souper Bowl Services, we restock the shelves of the County Line Food Pantry […] Our food pantry serves anyone in need in DeKalb County and is located at our Auburn Campus.— County Line Church of God
It will also hold its annual Chicken Wing sale. All proceeds will support the County Line Student Ministry and the church wants its participants to know that “if you ordered last year, please note that these wings will be larger.”
While there may have been previous NIL deals with a church, Merriweather, Staes, Bertrand, Laszewski and Starling partnering with County Line is the first to receive this amount of publicity, if not the first of its kind. More details on the partnership and how it came to be can be found here.