First Round can't believe it. The stars have finally aligned. Its two greatest loves – private equity and the gridiron – have been united.
Yes, that's right: The National Football League Players Association, the labour union for NFL players, has launched a venture group. Its currency? Tom Brady's face.
OneTeam Collective will trade the rights to football players' images in return for equity in sport-related start-ups. It's looking to back ventures in sectors like fan engagement, data analytics, performance and training, sports nutrition, fantasy sports, gaming, wearable tech, and virtual and augmented reality
Six other founding partners, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Madrona Venture Group, will provide “consulting services and potential funding”.
OneTeam Collective also has an Athlete Advisory Board which includes current NFL players, like the Denver Broncos' Russell Okung, and former stars Dhani Jones – now managing partner of Qey Capital Partners and an investor on CNBC's Adventure Capitalists – and Isaiah Kacyvenski, who co-founded partner company Sports Innovation Lab.
“Together we will help companies unlock the value of the world's greatest unifier – sports and the athletes who play them,” said Ahmad Nassar, the OneTeam Collective board chairman. “With the OneTeam Collective, the goal is to build on that appeal to nurture and grow businesses that will be beneficial to all.”
In a bizarre coincidence that First Round is sure occurred to nobody at all, OneTeam Collective is hosting its first Pitch Day in February in Houston, which just so happens to be the location of Super Bowl LI.
As we went to press, the Championship games had to yet to be played, and it's unclear whether head coach Bill Belichick has been consulted over Brady's availability if the New England Patriots make it to the big game. However, as a famously mild-mannered guy, First Round is sure he won't mind his quarterback taking time out from preparations to hawk his services to a room of expectant investors.