Rob Gronkowski can’t get enough Tom Brady, and vice versa. Tampa Bay’s duo of GOAT quarterback and electric tight end has paired 102 times in the end zone and won four Super Bowls together with the Patriots and Buccaneers. 

Now the NFL superstars-turned-entrepreneurs are connecting in the NFT world with a foray into digital collectibles. 

Autographs are more than they used to be

On October 11, Gronk announced he is joining Autograph, the digital collectibles trading platform cofounded by Brady earlier this year. Autograph brings together leaders in sports, entertainment, fashion, and pop culture to issue specially curated NFTs.

Gronk’s NFT series launches as part of the Preseason Access collection on Autograph and DraftKings Marketplace. Prices for individual NFT cards range from $12 to $100. Versions digitally signed by Gronk begin at $250.

Autograph has quickly gained credibility among star athletes with Brady at the helm. Since April, the platform has released NFTs with Usain Bolt, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Simone Biles, Derek Jeter, Naomi Osaka, and Tony Hawk. 

The company now has its sights set on Hollywood.

In July, Lionsgate inked a partnership with Autograph to distribute a series of NFTs focusing on popular franchises in the entertainment giant’s film and TV portfolio. Digital memorabilia drops are planned with themes surrounding The Twilight Saga, John Wick, Dirty Dancing, and Mad Men.  

Autograph is the latest in Brady’s portfolio of business ventures. He and trainer Alex Guererro previously founded TB12, a sports nutrition and performance company based on the five-time MVP’s 2017 book The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance

This isn’t Gronk’s first NFT rodeo

Gronk has successfully dipped his six-foot-six-inch frame in the NFT waters before.

In fact, he became the first NFL player to do so with the March drop of a 349 digital trading card series on the OpenSea platform. The collection celebrates Gronk’s four Super Bowl victories with 87 editions commemorating each title game. The final card offers a 1-of-1, digitally signed retrospective of career highlights.

The OpenSea collection sold quickly en route to grossing $1.2 million.

Gronk’s decision to lean into NFTs is one that can be traced to his early years. The 32-year-old grew up collecting and trading sports cards with his five brothers. 

Gronk sees NFTs as a modern spin on the enjoyment offered by traditional sports cards–an enticing way for fans to connect with each other and their favorite players. 

Autograph, sports collectibles ride broader NFT trend

Eye-raising sales figures are largely responsible for thrusting NFTs to the forefront of public awareness in 2021. 

The highwater mark was set in March with the $69.4 million sale of Everydays: the First 5000 Day, an image collection by the digital artist Beeple, fetching $69.4 million at Christie’s Auction House.

While many people wonder whether NFTs are the future of art or a bubble, the success of sports-related NFTs suggests digital collectibles are here to stay. 

The personal endorsements by Brady, Gronk, and others prove athletes are eagerly embracing NFTs as the technology disrupts collecting.

Bringing a new truth to collectibles

Beyond tightening the bond between player and fan, NFTs provide ways to authenticate sports collectibles. This is a welcome feature in a $5.4 billion market often rife with counterfeits and dubious artifacts. 

The process of authenticating a digital collectible may be easier than determining the legitimacy of physical memorabilia such as an autographed ball. 

The origin and ownership of each NFT collectible are logged and validated on the blockchain. Records are even updated when a NFT changes hands. The irrefutable nature of blockchain data assures dealers and buyers of sports NFTS are handling the real deal. 

Autograph is the only hot Brady-Gronk partnership, for the time being, a frustrating reality for Buccaneers fans. 

Gronk is currently on the mend after suffering multiple rib injuries and a punctured lung during a Week 3 contest against the Rams. His return is uncertain.