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The NFL Dips a Toe Into New Ad Pool — Just Don't Call it 'Crypto'

The NFL is relaxing some rules and keeping others as it looks for a new revenue stream.
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Cryptocurrency exchanges have a new advertising vehicle, as the National Football League relaxes its regulations. 

The NFL has been loosening its regulations on the types of businesses players and teams it can partner with off the field over the past few years. 

While legal marijuana advertising is still verboten for the league, the NFL in recent years has allowed for gambling ads and partnerships. 

In 2017 the league lifted its ban on liquor advertisements, with the prerequisite that the commercial spots also include messages about social responsibility. But it took until 2019 for the NFL to allow alcohol brands to use players' likenesses in its advertisements. 

The NFL keeps a tight control over its image. The practice has become to be known as the NFL "protecting the shield" in reference to the sports league's logo. 

But now the NFL is opening the door for crypto exchanges to capitalize on the league's popularity. 

NFL Teams Can Partner With Crypto Exchanges

The NFL is relaxing its crypto exchange advertising rules just weeks after the league allowed those same exchanges to buy Super Bowl advertisements. Crypto exchanges can now negotiate for advertising deals with individual teams. 

But the new freedom comes with a few caveats. 

The exchanges can not use the words "crypto" or "cryptocurrency" to describe the sponsorships, according to reports. The new deals also cannot promote the use of any particular cryptocurrency, like bitcoin, and must be restricted to three years or less. 

“What should be super clear is we are not promoting cryptocurrency, that’s not part of our policy here. What we’re exciting about is the broader applications of blockchain technology," said Joe Ruggiero, NFL senior VP of consumer products. 

Teams will not be able to sign sponsorships based on intellectual property with NFT businesses, except those that are league sponsors — including Dapper Labs, Ticketmaster and Panini — to promote their own NFTs. But they can accept advertising business as long as they don't use club marks and logos. 

Multiple NFL Players Getting Paid in Bitcoin

"It's a NEW ERA & to kick that off I'm hyped to announce that I'm taking my new salary in bitcoin," tweeted three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl winner Odell Beckham Jr., who also said he was giving away $1 million in bitcoin to fans.

Beckham is one of at least five current NFL players receiving at least some of their pay in the form of a crypto salary. The list includes Aaron Rodgers, Trevor Lawrence, Russell Okung and Saquon Barkley.

Recently, the NFL teamed up with popular online game Roblox  (RBLX) - Get Free Report to expand its presence in the metaverse and launched NFL Tycoon Wednesday, a game that allows players to build, play and learn an NFL-centered world based on Roblox's popular tycoon and simulator genres.

"We see Roblox as an extension of NFL's real-life engagement platforms for emerging social connectivity where fans can learn the game and business side of NFL football," said Ruggiero, the NFL's senior vice president of consumer products.