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ESPN strikes its first NFT deal, with a company owned by Tom Brady

Mike Tannenbaum joins Brother from Another to discuss how the power dynamic of quarterbacks in the NFL has shifted as signal-callers continue to have a larger say in their own outcomes.

Tom Brady apparently is holding no grudges over ESPN supposedly forcing him into a short-lived retirement.

ESPN has announced its first-ever NFT deal. It has gone into business with Tom Brady’s side hustle known as Autograph.

The collaboration between the four-letter network and seven-time Super Bowl-winner launched with an NFT collection based on Brady’s Man in the Arena documentary series, an offering that didn’t have quite the same impact on the overall zeitgeist as The Last Dance did.

The first release, which arrives today, coincides with the ESPN+ series becoming more widely available (it’s heading to Hulu and Disney+) for a limited time.

So now they play the waiting game. Will people plunk down big money for non-fungible tokens of various images regarding Brady’s storied career? They definitely do it when it comes to trading cards and other tangible items. We’ll see if they do it for digital originals offered by ESPN and Brady.

Also, the arrangement further blurs the line between ESPN and the athletes they cover. How objective will ESPN be when it comes to Brady? How much information that could cast Brady in a bad light (e.g., possibly scheming to get to a new team or finagling a new coach) will be shared by ESPN with its audience?

These are fair questions that need to be asked, and dynamics that deserve to be monitored. Especially as Brady continues to eyeball the possibility of exiting the Buccaneers in 2023 for a team like the Dolphins, and as ESPN may be tempted to look the other way (or, as the case may be, continue to look the other way) on that very real possibility.