Home Sports Crypto and the NFL: Part 1

Crypto and the NFL: Part 1

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Illustration of NFL mascot and Bitcoin.

On October 24th, Tom Brady threw his 600th career touchdown, the first player to do so in NFL history. Overlooked by a blowout victory for the Bucs, a potentially life-changing trade was made in the scrum of it all. 

Mike Evans, Wide Receiver for the Buccaneers, was the lucky recipient of Tom Brady’s 600th TD. While celebrating, however, Evans made the critical mistake of giving away the football to a fan in the stadium. One of the team’s equipment managers immediately went over to the fan, bargaining for the ball back. After giving the ball back in exchange for some soft promises from the team, the official trade was announced days later. In return for the football, the fan received:

  • 2 signed Tom Brady jerseys and a helmet
  • A signed Mike Evans jersey and his game cleats
  • $1k gift card for the Bucs team store
  • 2 season tickets for the rest of this season and the 2022 season
  • 1 bitcoin
Via Twitter

Yes, you read that last part right. FTX, a centralized cryptocurrency exchange partially owned by Tom Brady, partnered to get this fan an entire bitcoin. 

This brings us to an intriguing intersection: NFL players and their investment into alternative markets. The generations of football players potentially squandering their earnings (Vince Young, Terrell Owens, etc.) during and after their careers are over. As leaders in the sport push their earnings into equitable assets, typically investing in the stock market and other ventures, a new generation of investors is coming to play.

Russell Okung was the first NFL player to be paid via crypto, bargaining with the Carolina Panthers to get half of his salary in bitcoin. This financial decision made him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL immediately. While he is the first player to be paid by an NFL team in crypto, other investments date years earlier. 

Richard Sherman was one of the first NFL athletes to embrace crypto. Back in 2014, when the Seattle Seahawks defense was ranked first in the NFL, Sherman sold apparel on his personal website. He (Sherman) accepted a basket of payments, one of them being bitcoin. As the years have passed, Sherman has openly voiced regret for selling some of his coins. However, Sherman has doubled down in his cryptocurrency backing, acting as a spokesperson and investor for Cobinhood.

Older NFL players aren’t the only guys investing in their digital wallets. Some of the youngest NFL stars are also diving headfirst into cryptocurrency. Pro Bowl Running Back Saquon Barkley, for example, recently announced that he will be taking all of his endorsement income via bitcoin.

Via the “The Best Business Show,” Barkley told Anthony Pompliano, “We’re seeing inflation, and we’re learning you can’t save wealth. That’s why I am going to be taking my marketing money in bitcoin… When you see the KDs, the Lebrons and Bradys of the world, and you want to create generational wealth, you can’t do that with the sport that I play and the position that I play and coming off of injuries.”

The recent 1st pick of the NFL draft, Trevor Lawrence, has also divulged his plan to join the crypto world. In April, he (Lawrence) signed a multi-year endorsement deal with the cryptocurrency investment app Blockfolio. Just days later, Lawrence put his entire signing bonus into Bitcoin, a whopping $24.1 million.

Bitcoin isn’t the only place NFL players invest in their digital wallets, as other players have invested heavily in NFTs. An important piece to note is that athletes are finding themselves as both buyers and sellers of NFTs. 

Rob Gronkowski, one of the league’s best tight ends of all time, recently dropped a collection of limited edition NFTs, which in total sold for $1.2 M. Other players involved include Von Miller, a former Defensive Player of the Year, has a vast collection of NFTs and crypto investments, his most significant investment being in the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT (currently valued at 33.55 WETH). 

As NFL players continue to empower their wealth generation off the football field, the crypto world is fast becoming the field of choice for their long-term investments.

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