According to UBS, 78% of former NFL players will find themselves in financial distress within two years of retirement. Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Richard Sherman, Cleveland Browns DT Sheldon Day and retired WR Amir Carlisle have embarked on a mission to change that. In 2021, the trio launched The Players Company (TPC) with the intention of fixing what they say is a broken system.
Now, backed by 45 professional athletes (including 49ers DE Dee Ford, Bengals DE Sam Hubbard and former MLB star Torii Hunter), TPC is putting the final touches on the Web3 infrastructure that will support its vision for a “social wealth club.” Next month, TPC will rollout a gamified, digital banking and education application and formally introduce The Players Company DAO—a community that will exist to “educate, build and promote collaboration on the journey to wealth,” Carlisle said.
JWS’ Take: Day’s personal experience and observations sparked the idea for a reimagined banking and financial literacy platform. The six-year NFL veteran told JohnWallStreet during a recent Zoom call that one commonality he has seen in locker rooms throughout his career is “this underlying issue of [players] not having enough financial literacy.”
Day finds that to be troubling considering how many players inside of NFL locker rooms are coming into money for the first time in their lives. “How can you expect someone who was never been taught about money to responsibly leverage a line of credit, budget properly for the half of the year when [they] aren’t getting paid, make an informed decision on a financial advisor, invest early and often, all while figuring out how to responsibly help [their] family and live [their] life?…You can’t,” he wrote in a recent Mirror post.
In addition, Carlisle believes that it’s possible for athlete’s goals and desires to be misaligned with the people meant to be looking out for them (agents, financial advisors, CPAs) and without the knowledge base to engage agents on a tactical level, it’s often too late for the player by the time they come to the realization.
The desire to protect athletes led TPC down the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) road. Carlisle explained the transparent, decentralized nature of a DAO will ensure TPC can “authentically execute on [its] mission” to create a community aligned economically and socially. The Players Company DAO community will govern the TPC platform. As Day said, it is “banking for the people, by the people.”
TPC’s decentralized approach to banking is about reimagining an inequitable system. “It’s about [turning] it from this one-way street, where your banking relationship is ‘they take your money, loan it out, generate net interest margin and pay you barely anything,’ [into ]a two-way street, where ‘you give the money to [TPC], we generate revenue, and that revenue created goes back to you in the form of educational programs, grants, etc…,” Carlisle said.
TPC believes the key to cultivating lasting wealth begins with education. So The Players Company DAO “centers around this proof-of-learn protocol,” Carlisle said. “Our method [to improving financial literacy] is to incentivize athletes to engage with the educational curriculum and to invest in their personal growth.” By doing so, they will earn tokens (tokens will also be awarded for achieving financial goals, winning savings- or budget-related competitions and promoting collaboration amongst the community). Learning “will be the initial step to achieving decentralization over a period of time,” Carlisle said.
TPC token holders will have a voice in platform governance, the opportunity to attend a series of physical and virtual community events, and access to a private Discord channel. But as Carlisle explained, as community members accumulate tokens they will “rank up and earn badges. Those badges are in the form of NFTs, and those NFTs unlock access [or benefits] on the platform” (higher interest rates on high-yield accounts and lower banking fees are among the ideas being discussed).
Badge holders will also gain access to community investment opportunities. The riskier the asset class, the higher the user will have to rank to participate.
While the March rollout will focus on the introduction of a new, Web3-based digital banking and financial literacy platform, Carlisle said TPC has plans to build on top of that foundation. He envisions adding “a marketplace where [the community] can be that filter to help guide an athlete down the path of ‘who do I choose as a [financial] service provider, who are the individuals to build my team [around].’ Naturally, there will be opportunities to monetize that marketplace from a partner standpoint, he added.
It is important to distinguish between The Players Company and The Players Company DAO. The 45 pro athletes referenced, who collectively poured $450,000 into TPC to fund the initial product build-out, will receive token warrants proportionate to their investment. The hope is liquidity in the token itself will eventually enable them to net a positive return.
The underlying value of a TPC token is tied to The Players Company DAO community treasury. Carlisle explained that banking services would initially fund the treasury. “We [will] make money on interchange fees, on card transactions, net interest margin on a couple different types of accounts that we offer (think: spending, investment, savings) and interest on cash deposits.” The DAO community will determine how that capital is allocated.
Maximizing banking revenues will drive TPC token value. But creating real world use cases for them can as well. Carlisle said he envisions a day when community members can use tokens “to get a financial plan or hire a budget coach for a month.”
TPC piloted its social wealth club concept with ~200 athletes between 2020 and 2021. They found a range of subject experts (including Admiral Capital Group co-founder David Robinson, Athletic Greens president Kat Cole and Financial Footwork president Hillary Seiler) willing to donate their time and knowledge to educate the community, as well as several top investment firms eager to provide the collective with co-investment access. “We did four investment deals and all of those investments are performing extremely well to date,” Carlisle said.