I was the Jerry Rice-type player: tall, fast, with good hands and hard to tackle. Joe Schmidt was the school's Roger Craig and he ran with his knees in the air just like good old #33. We each had attributes that were quite marketable. We became known as team-changing players. Going head-to-head, we were perfect competitors and when we ended up on the same team, we were undefeated.
This leads me to the role of personal branding. Joe and I eventually became the biggest go-to players on the John Adams campus. We had a strong athletic brand. I do not know where Joe or Sam are today, and I can tell you that we could probably get beat by a bunch of 6th graders now...but personal brand is still important.
Today I still work on maintaining my personal brand. As an adult it is even more important because it usually leads to getting paid. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your personal brand:
1) It must be authentic.
You cannot be someone else's brand. People will poke holes in a fake brand. They can tell it unauthentic if you drop the ball when it's thrown to you.
2) It must have value.
Maybe monetary value is not what you are seeking, but your brand must add to a person life (especially your own). All too often, people select brands based on popularity instead of value added.
3) It must be communicated.
People will look to words and actions to understand your personal brand. Those communication channels must effectively communicate your personal brand. It does little good if you are the only consumer of your brand.
Sam, thanks for picking me first (sometimes second)...I know your selection worked because we OWNED the playground.