Pro athletes may be the best of the best on the sports field, but increasingly they are succeeding in the business world. Global stars such as Michael Jordan and LeBron James were pioneers in expanding their influence outside the world of sport and these days, there are many top athletes who have been following their example, particularly in the NFL.
High-profile athletes with large salaries are increasingly likely to invest rather than spend their money. This can include taking an interest in many different sectors, but one of the most notable trends in recent years has been for stars from the NFL to invest in esports.
For NFL fans and bettors checking out the latest NFL parlay bets online selection, the best NFL players make a significant impact on the field. But their off-field interests increasingly involve investments in the growing esports sector. Esports have taken off dramatically in recent years, with millions of fans around the world watching their favorite esports stars, with some of the top esports competitors earning global fame. Shrewd NFL stars have recognized the opportunities for investment that esports offer.
Marquez Valdez-Scantling was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2018 and is now on the roster of the Kansas City Chiefs, but he has also been making an impact in the esports world. His interest in esports is so strong that he created his own team, Trench Made Gaming, which was founded in association with Subnation.
Although it was only launched in March 2021, Trench Made Gaming has already taken part in its inaugural Call of Duty: Warzone competition and is recruiting players to be part of their multi-gaming company as they aim to establish themselves in the ultra-competitive esports world.
Rodger Saffold’s career in the NFL began in 2010, but his passion for video games started far earlier. He and his longtime friend Kahreem Horsley were huge Gears of War fans, and while Horsley moved on to play competitive gaming with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Saffold went on to play in the NFL and has played for the St Louis/L.A. Rams, Tennessee Titans, and the Buffalo Bills.
At the same time, Saffold has been heavily involved in esports. With Horsley, he co-founded the Call of Duty team Rise Nation in 2014. Since then, their company has grown significantly. Rise Nation currently enters teams in Gears Of War, FIFA and Valor competitions.
With the Seattle Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch was part of the famous roster that won the Super Bowl in 2013. A five-time Pro Bowl pick, the running back has also invested heavily in esports, including a contribution to a $15m fundraising round for the team NRG Esports in 2017.
NRG Esports is a multi-gaming esports company that fields teams in a variety of esports competitions, including Rocket League, Apex Legends, Overwatch, and Valorant. One of their teams, the San Francisco Shock of Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League, won back-to-back championships in seasons two and three with their Overwatch squad, thanks in part to the former NFL star’s investment.
New York Giants supporters know all about Michael Strahan. His 15-year Giants career famously came to a close in 2008 with a Super Bowl triumph. Since his time in the NFL ended, Strahan has developed a television career, appearing on shows such as Good Morning America and Live! With Kelly and Michael, but he has also taken an interest in esports. Strahan joined Marshawn Lynch in investing in NRG Esports and is now a shareholder in one of the most successful esports teams.
Steve Young, an NFL Hall of Famer, began his football career in 1984 with the Los Angeles Express of the US Football League. He won the Super Bowl three times during his 15 years in the NFL and rose to fame as one of the sport’s most recognizable figures. The former quarterback entered the esports industry in 2017 by funding Team SoloMid.
At the time, the U.S.-based organization was looking for support and in the investment round in which Young took part, it was able to secure $38m. While TSM is perhaps best known for its League of Legends exploits, the organization also has rosters in several other current esports, including Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, and Apex Legends.