In just a matter of months, the National Football League has gone from being one of the least crypto-curious sports leagues to paving the way for mainstream adoption.
The latest development is a partnership between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and online sports betting giant DraftKings, which announced the collaboration on Tuesday.
The deal will grant licensing for players’ name, image and likeness rights to DraftKings for use on its NFT Marketplace beginning at the start of the NFL’s 2022-23 season.
DraftKings says it will use the licensing rights for a fantasy-style game where users can go head-to-head against each other using the non-fungible tokens they purchase for specific players, according to a press release.
The format is similar to that of the European NFT platform Sorare, which announced plans to enter American sports markets earlier this year.
The partnership adds to the NFL’s growing list of NFT ventures, headlined by a deal with Dapper Labs to create a trading venue akin to NBA Top Shot. The NFL All Day platform on the Flow blockchain is expected to be released in the coming months.
The NFL also collaborated with Ticketmaster in November to release a series of team-specific NFT collections, with plans of tying tickets purchased for select NFL games with collectibles throughout the remainder of the season.
The deal with DraftKings was facilitated by OneTeam Partners, which is the official media business partner of the NFLPA.
“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,” said Beth Beiriger, senior vice president of product operations for DraftKings Marketplace. “We will continuously adapt, innovate and seek progressive collaborators like the NFLPA and OneTeam to reach early adopters among fan bases and ultimately introduce these next-generation products to the masses.”
Read more: Dapper Labs Is Bringing Its NFTs to the NFL
While similar fantasy sports projects have faced regulatory concerns regarding gambling laws, a representative from DraftKings told CoinDesk it has no worries that the company can operate within the rules to launch its platform across select states in the U.S.