Lacrosse is riding a wave of popularity. Participation in youth leagues across the U.S. in 2012 was up 11.3 percent from a year earlier. ESPN will air 25 college games on its networks this season, and CBS Sports Network will show 20 Major League Lacrosse games. “Paul’s the guy who’s going to continue to rise with the game,” says SAC Capital Advisors Chief Operating Officer Sol Kumin.
A superhuman, 112-mph shot helped Rabil land endorsement deals for brands such as Red Bull and New Balance’s Warrior sports line. Thanks to lacrosse’s favorable demographics—43 percent of players come from households earning more than $100,000—Rabil’s also backed by upscale brands Polk Audio and Nooka watches, among others. He’ll make “a couple of million dollars” over the next several years, according to his agent, Ira Rainess.
Widely regarded as the best player in the sport, 27-year-old Rabil plays in both of lacrosse’s burgeoning pro leagues: the outdoor MLL (for the Boston Cannons) and the indoor National Lacrosse League (for the Philadelphia Wings). He was the top pick in the ’08 MLL collegiate draft and earns an annual salary of $65,000.
At DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Rabil led the varsity soccer, basketball, and lacrosse teams to state championships. “He was like a thoroughbred colt,” says Dick Long, Rabil’s high school lacrosse coach. At Johns Hopkins, Rabil led the lax team in scoring for three years, till he graduated in 2008.
Like many professional lacrosse players, Rabil also works in finance. He’s a partner at Endurance Co., an investment firm. “My time is very regimented,” he says. Among Rabil’s Wall Street network of friends: SAC Capital’s Kumin and Apollo Investment President Ted Goldthorpe.
An avid Twitter user, Rabil has 34,000 followers and 63,100 likes on Facebook. Last year he hired the sports marketers Activ8Social to help him emulate the career of another nonmainstream sports figure, extreme athlete Shaun White. “My brand is nowhere near where I want it to be,” Rabil says.