The National Football League is evaluating the cryptocurrency and NFT industries — and barring teams from sponsorships with companies directly involved in producing or selling those assets in the meantime.
The league’s 32 teams are prohibited from selling ads or sponsorships to crypto coins, crypto marketplaces, and other companies that sell blockchain assets, as well as releasing their own NFTs, according to The Athletic.
The guidance came out prior to the New York Giants’ deal with Grayscale Investments in May. While Grayscale offers assets to investors that track the cryptocurrency market, similar to index funds, it does not sell crypto coins or other blockchain assets, so the partnership was allowed to proceed.
Other leagues are diving headfirst into the evolving world of digital assets.
- NBA Top Shot, created through a partnership between Dapper Labs and the NBA, has hosted $675 million in sales since its beta launch in May 2020. At least a dozen NFL players have invested in Dapper Labs.
- MLB launched an NFT marketplace with Fanatics-owned Candy Digital in July, with the first asset selling for $70,400.
- Teams around the globe have embraced crypto sponsorships: Crypto marketplace FTX signed naming rights deals for the Miami Heat’s arena for 19-years, $135 million arena and UC Berkeley’s football field for 10 years, $17.5 million. Inter Milan made a $101 million, multiyear shirt-sleeve deal with blockchain company Zytara Labs.
NFL players are allowed to have crypto and blockchain company sponsorships. Tom Brady and top draft choice Trevor Lawrence both have deals with FTX. Brady launched his own NFT platform, Autograph, in August.