Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has quickly become one of the most beloved players not just in upstate New York, but in the entire NFL. However, the 26-year-old superstar faced some rare fan backlash following his latest off-the-field business venture.
Last week, Allen announced his partnership with online betting website DraftKings and sports memorabilia website Metabilia to launch his own collection of NFTs, non-fungible tokens, which are “cryptographic assets on a blockchain technology with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguishes them from each other,” as defined by Investopdia.com.
“‘Membership NFTs’ for Josh Allen will allow fans to chronicle his career and have access to exclusive memorabilia items,” a June 8 press release stated. On June 12, Allen hosted a meet-and-greet in Buffalo for his new NFT collection.
Allen owns an equity stake in Metabilia, a startup led by CEO Joseph De Perio, as reported by The Buffalo News‘ Jason Wolf. “Essentially, what we deliver is an opportunity for a fan to take part in the journey with Josh and profit from great things that happen,” De Perio told Wolf.
However, when Allen announced his NFT partnership on social media, numerous fans were less than thrilled at the news. After he posted his “Series 1 Member NFTs” on Instagram, the comments section flooded with backlash.
“Josh come on 🤦♂️.”
“i love you so much josh but please say no to NFTs.”
“josh no!! 😭😭😭 don’t cheapen your brand.”
When Allen shared NFT Black Edition image on June 9, the criticism continued. “I love you josh but damn this the dark side of the force,” one person commented, while another fan believed this venture was so out of character for Allen that he wrote, “Josh blink twice if your in danger.”
Of course, numerous people were excited to purchase Allen’s NFTs. One fan tweeted, “He’s creating them for his fans. The ones that want to capture every big moment in his career. Plus the perks are amazing. This weekend they are doing a meet and greet with Josh. Plus the charity auctions will benefit the Buffalo community. You should check them out!”
As for the charity aspect of Allen’s digital cards, Wolf reported, “Metabilia plans to release a new ‘Member’ series of Allen NFTs each year. Proceeds from the 17th NFT in each series will benefit the Patricia Allen Fund at the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.”
The co-founder of Metabilia, De Perio, is accused in a lawsuit filed by Cypress Holdings in January of defrauding $1 million from investors in SportBLX, another company he co-founded, which aimed to ‘tokenize’ and sell shares of professional athletes.
De Perio told The Buffalo News that “he believes the lawsuit against him and the company in Manhattan federal court has no merit, will be dismissed and has nothing to do with Metabilia or Allen.”
NFTs Can Be Vulnerable to Scams Due to Its Unregulated Nature
Due to a lack of regulation, the NFT market is “a place of opportunity for all types of scams,” WeLiveSecurity wrote in May on its website.
In January, a class-action lawsuit was brought against EthereumMax and its celebrity promoters Kim Kardashian, Paul Pierce and Floyd Mayweather. CNBC reported in January that EthereumMax “lost around 97% of its value since early June, leading some investors to label it as a ‘pump and dump’ scheme where scammers attempt to boost the price of an asset through false or misleading statements.”
The Art Newspaper’s Riah Prior reported in December that investors in Evolved Apes NFTs lost $2.7 million during what’s called a “‘rug pull’ (where the liquidity in a token is removed by the developer, leaving other investors empty handed).”
Fans Also Commented on the Environmental Impact of NFTS
The weariness surrounding NFTs also stems from the digital currency’s environmental footprint. One Bills fan tweeted, “Stop ya know, damaging the environment and the HEAVY carbon dioxide release each time a token is exchanged. I don’t hate josh for this, I really understand it, but do some research before you start baby backing NFTs.”
NFTs take up so much energy because they’re hosted on blockchain technology in which “miners” (users who oversee each transaction) keep financial records secure. In March 2021, The Verge’s Justine Calma reported, “As a result,” companies like “Ethereum uses about as much electricity as the entire country of Libya.
Performing this “proof of work” generates a large amount of emissions, even just for one NFT. “This means that you can power a house in the United States for 4.7 days with the energy being used to mint an NFT,” Dexter Bano Jr., an advocate for environmental protection and technological advancement, told Vice in March of this year.
However, there appears to be change on the horizon. NBA’s Top Shot, the league’s official NFT marketplace, where fans can buy NBA highlights as NFTS, uses what’s called “proof of stake,” which creates less emission, Calma reported.
Allen is far from the only star athlete cashing in on NFTs. Tom Brady started Autograph, which recently added tennis phenom Coco Gauff to its roster of clients, which includes San Diego Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker.