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Crypto Fallout Hits The NFLPA

  • Union looks to recoup nearly $42 million in uncollected funds
  • Damage in one-hot commercial sector spreads further across sports industry
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The ongoing decline of the crypto market has left more commercial wreckage in sports — as an affiliate of the NFL Players Association scrambles to recoup nearly $42 million.

The union’s annual report recently filed with the U.S. Department of Labor detailed $41.8 million in accounts receivable through OneTeam Partners — a joint venture involving the NFLPA, several other pro athlete unions and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, among others — saying there remains “uncertainty” surrounding collection of the money.

According to The Athletic, the unpaid funds look to be connected to sharply declining activity surrounding non-fungible tokens (NFTs), particularly those produced by Dapper Labs and DraftKings, both of whom have already sought to renegotiate licensing deals with the NFLPA. 

The unpaid funds represent roughly a fifth of the union’s annual commercial activity. 

Many individual crypto currencies have lost most of their value following a bull run in 2021. FTX’s collapse was the most notable, leading to an arena name change in Miami and multiple lawsuits.

Other crypto-related companies, however, have faced similar issues including VirtualStax and Crypto Capital. Early this year, Fanatics divested its interest in NFT company Candy Digital, believing that NFTs are “unlikely to be sustainable or profitable as a standalone business.”

The NFLPA nevertheless remains healthy overall as executive director DeMaurice Smith serves in his final term with the union. It boosted its total assets 5% to $1.055 billion in 2022, thanks in part to ongoing strength in core licensing categories such as video games, trading cards, and apparel.

The union hasn’t commented on the NFT contract issue. 

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