In a February 1, 2022, Instagram post, Tom Brady officially announced his retirement from the National Football League (NFL), stating that “right now, it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.”[ii] As a third-generation Buffalo Bills fan, this was music to my ears. Over the course of 22 seasons (20 for the New England Patriots and 2 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Brady had led his teams to a mind-boggling record of 33 wins and 3 losses against the Bills.[iii] Although each loss stung, such was to be expected when facing off against the widely considered greatest quarterback in NFL history.
In his 22-season career, Brady won a historic seven Super Bowl titles, the most championships won by a single player or franchise in NFL history, along with five Super Bowl MVPs, the most in NFL history.[iv] Furthermore, Brady retires with a lengthy list of league records, including most touchdown passes (624), most passing yards (84,520), most regular-season wins (243), and most Pro Bowl selections (15).[v]
But, now that Brady’s storied career has come to an end and he is done terrorizing opposing teams’ defenses, what is next for the inevitable Hall of Fame quarterback? Well, according to his retirement post on Instagram, Brady says, “it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention…I’m fortunate to have cofounded incredible companies like @autograph.io @bradybrand @tb12sports that I am excited to continue to help build and grow.”[vi]
With over $263 million in career earnings, Brady has the resources necessary to implement a post-retirement business plan that will replicate his on-the-field success.[vii] However, Brady’s myriad of business interests and enterprises require legal expertise. Thus, to properly navigate the legal waters, Brady will count on Latham & Watkins, LLP, and an array of in-house lawyers and outside counsel to transition from his NFL career to ventures involving films, fashion, health and wellness, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).[viii]
Latham, known for its high-profile sports and entertainment practice, kept close ties to Brady during his football days and will continue to counsel him in his post-playing career.[ix] Public records show that Latham handled trademark work for Brady’s health and wellness company, TB12, Inc., and advised him on the entity formation for his film and television production company, 199 Productions LLC, named after his 199th draft position in the 2000 NFL Draft.[x]
TB12 was cofounded by Brady and his longtime body coach Alex Guerrero in 2013, upon becoming organized in Delaware.[xi] TB12, a performance lifestyle brand based on Brady’s strict training and exercise regimen, has one mission: to help you do what you love better and longer through performance, recovery, hydration, and nutrition.[xii] However, after years of unsuccessfully dabbling in physical locations, the brand pivoted to an entirely e-commerce based business model last year, and the results were fantastic.[xiii] Online sales increased 200% as the brand expanded into new markets worldwide.[xiv] Yet despite almost a decade’s head start, TB12 likely will not end up being Tom Brady’s first billion-dollar business venture. Rather, that tremendous feat will likely be up to his NFT platform Autograph, which recently raised $170 million in its Series B funding in January.[xv]
Autograph, which launched in April of 2021, was cofounded by Brady and CEO Dillon Rosenblatt.[xvi] Autograph is unique in that it plans to expand beyond the traditional NFT market with a mix of live NFT auctions, physical product drops, and in-person experiences.[xvii] Autograph will bring together some of the world’s most iconic names and brands with best-in-class digital artists to create and launch NFTs and ground-breaking experiences for fans and collectors.[xviii] Already, Brady has signed exclusive NFT deals with some of the most prominent names in the sports world, including former Yankee Derek Jeter, hockey player Wayne Gretzky, tennis star Naomi Osaka, golfer Tiger Woods, and skateboard legend Tony Hawk.[xix]
Even better yet, Autograph recently announced an exclusive NFT distributor partnership with sports betting behemoth DraftKings. As a result of the partnership, Autograph will exist as an NFT marketplace in parallel with DraftKings’ sports betting, which will allow DraftKings’ users to buy and sell NFTs with funds in their existing accounts.[xx]
In all honesty, this venture could fail just like 90% of all startups do, especially considering that NFTs are a new development, and sustained, long-term consumer demand has yet to be proven.[xxi] However, Tom Brady has drastically increased his odds of success by assembling a high-profile advisory team including: Eddy Cue (Apple SVP); Jon Feltheimer (Lionsgate CEO); Michael Rapino (Live Nation Entertainment CEO); Jason Robins & Paul Liberman (DraftKings cofounders); and Dawn Ostroff (Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer at Spotify).[xxii]
For the sake of Bills Mafia and the rest of the fan bases around the league, we desperately hope that NFTs eventually become the multi-billion-dollar market that some experts suggest.[xxiii] Recently, on his podcast, “Let’s Go!” with Jim Gray and Larry Fitzgerald, Brady addressed his retirement announcement and, when asked about potentially coming out of retirement, Brady replied, “never say never.”[xxiv] However, only time will tell whether or not Brady one day laces up his cleats again. For now, all that we can do is hope and pray that Tom Brady’s legal representation and business ventures make it worth his while to stay retired from football.
[xix] Id.; see also https://fortune.com/2022/02/01/tom-brady-retiring-work-ethic-goat-nft-business/#:~:text=Making%20no%20mention%20of%20time,to%20which%20Brady%20has%20long
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