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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — It’s a pitmaster/pigskin parallel for Grant Pinkerton.
“I don’t believe there’s a closer job than running a restaurant to being a head coach of a football team,” Pinkerton explained.

Thanks to a monumental NCAA rule change, Pinkerton can now help make decisions involving some of the best football players around, and do so without quitting his day job.
He’s the owner of Pinkerton’s BBQ.

In July, the NCAA ended its longtime ban on student-athletes being paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses. This means college players in all sports can earn cash on endorsement deals, including deals like the one Texas Longhorns star running back Bijan Robinson signed with Pinkerton’s BBQ.

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill allowing college athletes to profit off their own name and likeness

“He liked what we did, and we liked what he did,” Pinkerton said. “So really, it was a match made in heaven.”

We’re told the deal to have Robinson powered by Pinkerton’s is worth five figures.

“We pay him. Think of it as any other brand spokesman,” Pinkerton said. “We want him to be a brand ambassador for us. We hold ourselves to a very high standard here, and what we wanted was somebody who held themselves to a very high standard on the field. Everything on and off the field, Bijan does to the best of his ability, and I think that’s a great representation of our brand.”

For Pinkerton’s and for Bijan, it’s a good fit, just like the cowboy hat hanging inside the restaurant which is autographed by Longhorns legend and Houston icon Earl Campbell. Bijan says he’s spoken to Campbell about endorsements.

“Just different business opportunities that he’s taken when he was in the NFL,” Robinson said. “And his experience while he was coming up with business, everything like that.”

For more than two decades, things like this have been Dusty Stanfield’s business. He’s a sports marketing agent and the founder of Inspiration Athlete Management.

His local company has helped a local product cash in.

Manvel High School alumnus D’Eriq King, the former quarterback for the University of Houston who is now at the University of Miami, is a client of Stanfield’s and has signed a handful of endorsement deals. Dusty also works with Alabama quarterback Bryce Young – who, according to ESPN, made nearly one million dollars before starting his first college game.

“A lot of these college athletes are really enthusiastic about learning the business side and how to interact and they have a lot of new, neat innovative ideas,” Stanfield pointed out during an interview with ABC13. “If you’re good at playing sports, and you have an audience that wants to see you do it – why not capitalize on it?”

For the first time ever, companies and brands can be associated with athletes before they turn pro while they’re still on a college field. But the price won’t change – either way – with what happens on the field.

“These deals can’t be incentivized based on performances,” Stanfield noted. “No bonuses in there for rushing for 100 yards or anything.”

But Pinkerton does hope to amend his deal with Bijan Robinson, who hails from Arizona.

“We’re going to need him come in here and learn how to make Texas BBQ,” Grant said smiling. “Because before you can be a full Texas kid, you have to be able to cook a brisket.”

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