Tom Brady has already proven to be a savvy businessman and perhaps the best football player there has ever been.
Even after coming back from retirement, the former New England Patriots quarterback is now making moves with his latest venture - Autograph.
Brady As The Springboard
This month, Autograph announced that it had signed a multi-year deal with sports broadcast giant ESPN. The platform - which Brady launched as a way for athletes to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and sell to their fans - will now be in business with ESPN as both look to tell iconic sports stories using NFTs as a medium.
As part of the multi-year deal, Autograph and ESPN will collaborate to launch a 10-part ESPN+ documentary series called "Man in the Arena: Tom Brady.” The documentary will chronicle several milestones in Brady’s illustrious career, telling stories from a psychological and emotional perspective. Interestingly, the docuseries will be produced by Religion of Sports - a media company Brady himself co-founded.
While the documentary will be aired across all of Disney’s streaming services (including ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu), Autograph will also be looking to launch an NFT collection commemorating it. The collection will consist of three separate magazine covers from a special December issue on ESPN, which includes 14 stories written on Brady.
In line with the Autograph brand, Brady himself will sign 50 of those NFT covers. Speaking on the partnership, Dillon Rosenblatt, Autograph’s co-founder and chief executive, hailed it as the first NFT partnership that ESPN will be venturing into. Rosenblatt also added that the deal opens up possibilities for sports, hinting that Autograph could also expand to athletes in multiple sports and help them with NFT launches.
Autograph was created last year to help athletes connect better with their fans with NFTs as a medium. With more of these athletes pursuing media deals to boost their brands, Brady and Autograph hope that they can be a proper partner for them to mint and launch signed NFT collections across the board.
Living Up To The Billing
The ESPN deal marks the first major move for Autograph since the platform raised a massive $170 million. The funding round was closed in January, with leading participants including major venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins.
In addition to the funding round, Autograph’s leadership was also shuffled, with Andreessen’s general partner Arianna Simpson and Kleiner Perkins partner Ilya Fushman joining the company's board of directors. Chris Dixon, another Andressen general partner and one of the venture capital firm’s top crypto experts, also joined Autograph’s board of directors.
The company claimed at the time that it would keep pushing for mainstream crypto and NFT adoption. Definitely, the ESPN deal seems to be a step in the right direction on that front.
For now, Brady appears to be the primary driver of activity on the Autograph platform - even though artists like Naomi Osaka and Tiger Woods have also launched collections on it. With the quarterback going back to the NFL from next season, there’s a high likelihood that the Autograph platform will pick up the pace.
DraftKings Marketplace Ready For A Big Year
However, while Autograph appears to be getting its footing, it appears to have missed out on a massive payday with Brady’s sport - the National Football League (NFL). Last December, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) partnered with sports betting giant DraftKings to launch a gamified NFT collection on the DraftKings Marketplace.
According to an official announcement, both entities would offer NFTs to willing buyers from the 2022-2023 season. Fans would be able to purchase NFT-based games featuring their favorite teams and players, with DraftKings getting the rights to use players’ names and likenesses.
Speaking on the deal, Beth Beiriger, the senior Vice President of product at the Draftkings Marketplace, said: “The future of fandom is unfolding in front of us, and few organizations beyond DraftKings are as equipped to capitalize on the increasing intersection between sports and NFTs that will be cornerstones of engagement and entertainment within Web 3.0.”
Crypto and sports are continuing their dance, which could be a major source of adoption for the market in general.