Conversations around bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), and other cryptocurrencies are now becoming commonplace in NFL locker rooms.
With some of the league’s most notable players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers joining cryptocurrency sponsorships — and even giving away free bitcoin — curiosity about crypto investing and endorsements has risen among the thousands of millionaires in the NFL ecosystem.
“It's only going to grow,” Wasserman Executive Vice President of Football Doug Hendrickson told Yahoo Finance. “The more prevalent people that are talking about crypto and all that’s out there, it's going to be more in play than not going forward.”
Hendrickson, who has been representing NFL players since 1999, said an increasing number of players have shown an interest in where their money is being invested.
The agent estimated that about 60% of NFL players have an idea of how their financial advisor is handling their money and whether it’s beating investment benchmarks like the S&P 500 (^GSPC) or the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI). And as players see other investors come away with large returns, they have become more interested in volatile assets like cryptocurrencies.
Crypto investing is 'probably not' right for most players
The fact that NFL athletes are discussing investments with each other is a seismic shift in the world of these highly paid players; investments and sponsorship deals used to be a don’t ask, don't tell part of the business.
“We used to have a rule in the locker room where the coach said, ‘Hey, you can't bring in business deals, you can't bring in and introduce people to financial advisors,” Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis recently told Yahoo Finance. “So they kind of nip that to where you weren't allowed to talk about money and deals in the locker room.”
Davis won Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos during the 1997 and 1998 seasons and admitted he doesn’t know much about cryptocurrency outside of occasionally discussing it with friends.
But these days, as video advertisements of Brady with FTX or Rodgers with Cash App circulate around social media, it’s hard for players to not hear about each other's investments, Hendrickson said. That means players in the league now are far more exposed to what their colleagues are doing with their money than when Davis finished his career in the early 2000s.
Stoked to partner with @SBF_Alameda and @FTX_Official as we continue building the future of crypto. I hear we’re headed to the moon? pic.twitter.com/BdReBkNfxg
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) June 29, 2021
As investor gains are scattered over social media, these players now face a dilemma: Is the risk worth it?
High-paid stars like Brady, who has amassed about $290 million in NFL contracts, can afford to lose a few million dollars in a riskier investment. Many other NFL players can’t.
For now, most players are being advised to be careful with their cryptocurrency exposure. While the interest is there, the institutional adoption of cryptocurrency hasn’t yet reached a point where players are confident that it’s a safe place for their money.
“NFTs, crypto, [venture capital] deals, tech deals, all these different things these players want to try to get involved with,” Hendrickson said. “And I think it comes down to: Is it right for that player?… Truthfully, for most players, it’s probably not.”
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