- Autograph, an NFT platform co-founded by Tom Brady, is releasing new types of sports collectibles after selling out of its initial offerings.
- The platform is expanding into movies and music verticals, as well, and recently added The Weeknd to its board of directors.
Tom Brady has found success both in and out of the NFL, including in the cryptocurrency and space. Autograph—the NFT platform which Brady co-founded and serves as co-chairman of—went live in August and has sold through all of its initial drops, including those based on sports icons like Naomi Osaka, Tiger Woods, and Brady himself.
Now for the platform’s second wave of sports NFTs, Autograph is shaking things up. All of the first-wave sports NFTs on the marketplace looked nearly identical, like trading cards mixed with futuristic ID cards. But its latest NFTs, released yesterday, look like they’re straight out of the ‘80s.
The new Autograph drop from Olympic gymnast Simone Biles sports an “8-bit” retro look, with an animated Simone performing tricks in scenes that look straight out of an NES game. Biles’ High Score collection features NFT collectibles that show off some of her best-known moves, each with a pixel art character that Biles herself dubbed “Lil’ Simone.”
That’s according to Dillon Rosenblatt, CEO and co-founder of Autograph, who told Decrypt that the look was inspired by old-school technology plus the success of pixel art NFT profile picture collections like CryptoPunks. Biles was keen on it as well, he said.
“We see this as a really interesting way of taking something from the past, putting it into a futuristic product, and then having it live forever on the blockchain,” said Rosenblatt.
It’s the latest in what Autograph is calling the Mystery GOAT series, with each of the platform’s major athletes set to release a separate, stylized collection released via trading card pack-like blind boxes. Unlike previous Autograph drops, which offered varying rarity levels ranging in price from $12 to $1,500 per NFT, you’ll pay a fixed price and randomly receive one of the collection’s pieces.
Last week, Autograph kicked off the collection with Wayne Gretzky’s Gold on Ice NFTs, which will be revealed to buyers next week. Gretzy’s NFTs won’t look like Biles’ collectibles, nor future drops from Brady, Woods, and other athletes on the platform. In Gretzky’s case, the NFTs are inspired by five of the hockey legend’s top pro hockey records, which the retired athlete wrote out and had digitally scanned to be featured on the tokenized collectibles.
“Every athlete was able to co-author their collection and choose a moment from their career that they wanted to celebrate,” said Rosenblatt of the new drops. Some will also feature audio narration from the athlete in question, he added.
An NFT is a blockchain-backed proof of ownership for a digital item, enabling provable scarcity and provenance for digital images, trading cards, video files, and more. The market exploded to nearly $10.7 billion worth of trading volume in Q3 2021. Autograph’s collectibles are minted on Polygon, a scaling solution on top of Ethereum, the current leading platform for NFTs.
Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot helped drive NFTs into the mainstream earlier this year, generating more than $700 million worth of trading volume in the process. However, that platform’s activity has fallen off significantly since the spring, and didn’t see a sizable uptick in activity when the overall NFT market surged in recent months.
Next, Dapper will launch an NFL platform, while athletes have debuted their own NFT collections in recent months. Additionally, Ethereum-based fantasy soccer game Sorare has amassed enormous investment as it looks to expand to other sports and leagues, while Candy Digital has quickly scaled while releasing official Major League Baseball NFTs.
On the back of sold-out drops, Rosenblatt said that Autograph has seen only rising interest in sports NFTs so far. The firm’s approach is to work closely with its athlete partners to develop immersive collectibles, he said, with an emphasis on storytelling. Brady and Hawk have also engaged with Autograph’s community directly via Discord Q&A sessions too.
Next up for Autograph is bringing that approach to other verticals, including movies and music. Autograph launched NFTs based on the “Saw” horror movie franchise in October, and added popular musician The Weeknd (born Abel Tesfaye) to its board. Rosenblatt said that The Weeknd, who previously released his own NFTs via Nifty Gateway, can help Autograph make an impact in the music collectibles market—and drop his own NFTs too.
“The same way that we had Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, and our other athletes lead the sports vertical into the world,” he explained, “we see The Weeknd leading our music vertical and pulling in people that are close to him… and then building out a similar group of true thought leaders in the space, led by Abel.”
“We're really blessed to have [The Weeknd] involved in the project,” Rosenblatt added. “He's provided incredible insights already, and we're excited for his upcoming collections in the future.”
Brady himself has become immersed in the crypto world since Autograph was first revealed back in April, including joining crypto exchange FTX as an investor and brand ambassador and even giving away Bitcoin to a fan. When it comes to NFTs, Rosenblatt said that Brady has made telling stories a key part of the startup’s DNA.
“What he really lights up about is the storytelling. As chairman, he's really pushed that the storytelling needs to be 360 [degrees]. It needs to be awesome,” said Rosenblatt. “Why are we telling the story? What does it mean to the icon? That's something that Tom really, really believes in—that it's telling the stories first, and then we build from there.”