This week former NFLPA President, Eric Winston, joins The Game Plan to give listeners a peek behind the curtain on the most recent NFL CBA negotiation. Winston is an 11-year NFL veteran where he is best known on the field for his role as an offensive tackle for the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals.
Winston served as President of the NFLPA from 2014-2020 where he played a critical role in negotiations with the NFL around player health and safety, financial literacy, and workplace conditions, especially in the locker room. Most recently, Winston wrapped up his role as President of the NFLPA with the successful negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement that is set to run through 2030.
Our guest now holds the role of Chief Partnerships Officer at OneTeam, a group jointly founded by the NFLPA, MLBPA, and RedBird Capital Partners. OneTeam manages the commercial licensing rights of athletes across a diverse cross-section of properties, creates new marketing opportunities through its Athlete Marketing business, and generates unique deal flow and investment opportunities through its Venture Investment capabilities.
In this episode, we explore what went into developing the recently agreed upon CBA, and how our guest was able to manage the voices and needs of over 2,000 players to help bring labor peace to the NFL for the next decade.
Our guest also shares the key things from his playing career that have made the biggest impact on his work off the field, and helps us understand the things OneTeam is doing to help empower professional athletes around the world. Listeners won't want to miss our discussion around the early visibility the NFLPA and OneTeam had to Unicorns like Uber, Slack, and DocuSign
You can follow Eric Winston on Twitter @EricWinston and visit https://joinoneteam.com/ to learn more about OneTeam Partners.
*Please excuse any and all typos, errors and mistakes in the following transcript as we use an automated service to generate this text*
Hard work matters. And putting in the time matters and putting in dedicated time it matters. Right? I think we get a, and I'm going to get on my soap box here because I do believe this, but everybody thinks about talent and IQ way too much in this world and in, in people and they become, it becomes this polarizing state of well, am I good enough?
Or I'm not. And it's like, It's it's much more of a, of a range, right. And the people that are willing to put in the time, the people that are willing to put in the effort and to think about things and to think about your career and to think about how to block this guy and how am I going to do this? That, you know, all of a sudden, I'm not a good writer, but all of that.
And I've been writing for a year and now I'm a much better writer. Right. And it, well, it wasn't talent. Yeah. Right. It was actually you doing it. I'm Eric Winston, 12 year NFL vet and former NFL, PA president and current chief partnership officer at one team. You're listening to the game. Plan
Jay. I'm really excited to get into this week's episode with our guest. Eric Winston. Eric is the former president of the NFL players association, which he took on while he was a offensive lineman in the NFL for over 11 years. I'm excited to tune in.
Yeah, this is a really exciting one. And it's funny to look back at the last few episodes we've done. And we've now had three players who were all working at the highest levels of their respective PA. So Dan Kennedy with the MLS PA and negotiating that CBA Chris Dickerson last week, who was working with the MLB PA and now Eric Winston, who really stewarded, the NFL PA through a pretty.
contentious, but you know, very public CBA negotiation. And it's one of those interesting things where you realize like how much work actually goes into being a NFL PA president. And, just really exciting to hear all those little pieces that even working at the NFL for so many years, I had to be reminded how much work the PA actually does every day.
Yeah. And I'm sure our guests know who Patrick Mahoney is. I know who Aaron Rogers is, but how many of them know who Eric Winston is? And yet you could argue he's made a bigger impact on the NFL, or at least for what's to come over the next decade than any of those household names. So I'm really excited for our listeners to tune in and hear his perspective.
Yeah, very much. So. I mean, the collective bargaining agreement, what is such an important piece of what makes the NFL work? I mean, the labor piece is the whole reason that you see these NFL valuations go up. These valuations go up in the media rights, go up, media rights means more money for the players.
More money for the players means all the things we talk about on this show, which is startups and investing and all these things. Right? So. There is so much that Eric Winston really does. And on top of that, you know, you realize that the PA presidents don't get paid. So he stuck around and stewarded this whole negotiation piece, really because he felt so good strongly that he had to speak up for not just the superstar players to increase, you know, the maximums, but also for the 60% of guys that are on year to year or season to season contracts, making sure that they get all the benefits and, you know, kind of things that they really need to succeed.
Yeah, it's amazing to hear how in it. He's been on all of this stuff, obviously as president of the NFL, PA, that's going to be the case. And now he's turned that into his role as chief partnerships officer with one team partners. And I don't think our listeners necessarily are familiar with one team partners as well, which I'm excited for them to hear from Eric, but it's this amazing group that's brought together.
Multiple PA's from different sports, major league baseball. the w NBA, we had Megan Klinenberg on here. They're representing the us women's national team, which is great. And how all of those groups come together can do some really powerful things. And here he is in that partnership's role, trying to go out and create some really new and unique things.
It's about creating these playbooks. And he is somebody who for 11 years, you know, again, as an offensive lineman, these guys don't get enough credit. They know their playbooks inside and out. They have to know all the protections and schemes. Well, he's now out here creating a playbook for how other leagues can take.
What he's done so well with the PA and really expand that out and, and, you know, really create value, not just for the leagues, but for the players. So that said, Tim, I think that's enough from us for today. Why don't we get over to our conversation with Eric Winston, who is the former NFL PA president, and is now the chief partnerships officer for one team partners.
We hope you enjoy.
so you read only read recently retired and you were very involved with the NFL PA for many years, all the way up to this past March. I'd love to start off our conversation with you to understand your perspective about.
The balance of being a player with such a significant role in the PA, especially, you know, as an offensive lineman, it's not like everyone's coming up to you after the game winning touchdown or whatever, to like, get your perspective on that. I imagine a lot of your media time was specifically about the PA and your role with that.
So what was that balance like for you?
you know, listen, I, I learned at an early age and, and my, my mother actually always drilled it into me about time management. Right. And about thinking about, Hey, what's important to you and making sure that there's time in the day for it.
And I've always kind of come to this realization that. You really have time for, for three big things that you want to do in your life. Right. And so when I was playing. In the NFL, it was my family, it was football and it was the pie. Right. And that's not to say, there's not other stuff that you can fit in there, but if you're really looking at your schedule every day and you're really thinking about, okay, like what's important to me, you know, your, your, your calendar probably should reflect that.
Right. And if it doesn't, then it's probably not that important to you. Right. And that's like something that I kind of always got drilled into. So the idea that, That, that I carried with that into the PA was, was specifically, that was just okay. You know, I need to make sure that I'm obviously focusing on my day job.
I need to make sure I'm focusing on the PA and then you're in my family. And then obviously the last part of that will be the PI. So some of it was waking up a little earlier to send off some emails earlier in the day so that when I got home. You know, I had them in the inbox and I could do them after the kids went to bed at night or something like that.
So yeah, for me, it was important and, and it was something that I cared about and I made time for it. Right. And I think, you know, as we all look at the priorities in our lives, we make the time for the things we care about. And, and I cared about helping and I cared about helping our guys and wanting to do that job the best I could.
Yeah, let's dig into that a little bit more. Help us understand a bit. What got you interested in being a part of the PA in the first place?
it was so funny. So my rookie year, I had a mentor named Mark Bruener and Mark was a long time that, played 14 years. I think in the league, played a lot at a lot of time in Pittsburgh and then finished his career off in Houston.
And I was lucky enough and got some good advice. When I first got the league was, you know, find somebody that you think is doing it right. And just go follow them around. And Mark was a great guy and that sense of, you know, I'll never forget. He was like, Hey, do you want to lift with me? I'm happy to have you to talk to you.
Happy to. you know, kind of just impart some wisdom on it. And I said, yes. And he's like, okay, well be here at six 30. And I was like, gosh, shit. So it was, you know, it was one of those things. I got it. No, you lift it early, but you know, I got my butt out of bed and I got up there and a, it wasn't just the lifting, but lifting was kind of the lift things to lifting, but it was.
You know, building a friendship with him, understanding what it meant to be a professional. And then on top of that, he was an executive committee member, a vice president of the union at the time. So I didn't know that, but I had a lot of questions and I've always been kind of naturally inquisitive.
And why, why aren't we doing this? Or why are we doing that? And, Hey, that's a good idea. You know, let's talk about it. And yeah. And so it got to a point where he's like, Hey, I really want you to come to our annual meeting. And obviously there's, you know, the, at the time. the union representatives obviously come around annually to each team, but, you know, cutting the big meeting.
And I just saw a bunch of guys there that just cared about each other and, and, and more so than anything just wanted to help out and wanted to leave things a little bit, but then they found it. And then, and so for me, it was like being on a team within a team and. And I just wanted to a help out the guys any way I could and in whatever way that was, that's fine.
And then B just leave things a little bit better than I found it. So, you know, I was, I became a rep in Houston and was a rep in Kansas city and. Sat on some committees around agent regulations and financial advisor regulations and was on our investment committee. And so I did a lot of different roles that people asked me to do, and really just at the end of the day, just wanted to help and wanted to find out the best way to help.
And, and then, you know, towards the end of my career, I guess a lot later part of my career, not the end yet, but, we had a big turnover. So as you retire from the union, you know, it was when you stopped playing, then your eligibility is up to keep running. Right? It's an act players union. So we have just had a weird situation and we had a lot of guys moving off.
And so we had a lot of exams. You could have community managers that usually ended up becoming presidents, leaving and are wasn't at the time Dominic Foxworth had, had retired, tired, and wasn't playing that season. So it wasn't eligible to run and just had a lot of guys, What are those vets? I think that wanted to pass the Baton and asked me to do it.
And, you know, I told them, I said, well, I'm not going to make up. You know, I'm not going to, I'm not going to go campaign for it, but if guys want me to do it, and once someone wants to nominate me, then, you know, I'll throw my hat in the rain really at the end of the day, just with the idea of like, I just want to help.
Right. And, and if, and if, if guys think that I can help the best being in that position. Great. And if it's not that, then that's fine. It's not, for me. It's not, it wasn't a vanity contest for me. It was more about, Hey guys, you know, put me where you need me and, and I'm happy to play that role.
Yeah. And, and, you know, it's funny, you mentioned so many of the other things that the PA gets involved. And I think fans mostly hear about the PA every 10 years when the CBA is getting negotiated, or maybe there's some, some major challenge that comes in from the PA to the league. What was the most surprising thing for you during your tenure as president.
Because you had been involved with the PA for quite some time, but I'm sure when you're at that level, there's so much more that you see what surprised you the most
you know, when you, when you go from just being a rep to being president and you don't really have that middle ground of, of executive committee, because the day to day.
Stuff is really done at that executive committee level. And so when you're a rep, you do things at the team level and you, you know, Hey guys has a problem. A you call the representative from the union, you get up, you try to help out the locker room, but there's not a lot of action there. When you kind of make that jump, you kind of realized the world was turning and you didn't really know it.
Right. And it's one of those situations where. It's a flood of information. It's a flood of stuff going on. There's a flood. And it's funny. One of the first, a few weeks I was in it. I had a lot of ideas on things I want to do internally and, and programs I wanted to run and ideas, whether it was financial literacy around regular agent regulations, financial advisor regulations, et cetera.
And I, you know, and when I, I inherited the last. parts of the negotiation around, HGH testing and in the new testing protocols. So we were still bargaining that out. When I came on in March of 14, and I just made the comment to do Smith at the time and say, Hey, when we're done with this things will probably be pretty quiet and I'd love to kind of turn and focus on some of the things that, you know, I really think that I think are important.
And he said, well, we're going to do all that. But just remember that there's a, there's always going to be something. There's there, there will always be something that comes around. And so I guess the most surprising thing was in a weird way, was that it was just nonstop. Like there was, and then you think about it.
I came in and we had to finish off the ACHSR thing. Then it went immediately. And if you guys think about it, you know, back in late 14, you mean was Ray rice Hardy. Brady waved gate and it just with on and on and on and on, and then really led into kind of the culmination. Right. You know, my tenure, which was really the CBA part of the last 18 months leading into March.
And so it, it, I think the most surprising thing was that. You know, to your point, everybody thinks you have a union for the CBA negotiation here, and then, you know, eight to 10 years later, you have another CBA negotiation here. And then in the middle, you know, there. Trying to get some guys, some health care and teach them a few things.
And there literally was a dog fight. Every single part of the way you mentioned some of the Anthem issues and some of these other things. And now, now the league has a bunch of social justice warriors and, you know, they're acting like, you know, they were always in on it and it's, and you know, and I just remember some of those.
Negotiations around, you know, them wanting players to be forced to stand. And now, now where we are two to three years later, and it, it's just amazing. I think all of that, and I can't, I don't know if I can tell you one, thing's more surprising than the other, but I can tell you the totality of. Things going on at any one time was probably the most surprising thing to me.
no, you're, you're absolutely right. One of the things that, you know, in a very different way, when I got to the league office was really. That like, you know, the league doesn't shut down in the off season, right? It is 365 days a year. And now when you turn the
I would say we were more busy on the off season, I would say.
Yeah. I mean, because are you think about it? Like our programming started when the season ended, right. And so the season ended and then we had. We had, you know, we have our own NFL PA bowl game and around the NFL PA bowl game, we did this kind of rookie orientation slash new leader summit. Right. So we bring those guys in, like guys wanted to learn more and that were rookie second years.
Then we had this whole, all star game. And then right from there, we had pro bowl super bowl. Right. Which we're doing programming around both. And then after Superbowl, you think, Oh, okay, now it's all over. Now take like a couple of deep breaths and it's combined. Right. And now they moved the combine back a little bit now, but when people forget combine used to be like three weeks after the super bowl or something, it wasn't, it was like late February.
It wasn't that much further back or even early March. Now it's a little bit further back. We had March and then in mid March we have, or I'm sorry, late February, then in mid March. Now we have our annual meeting, right? So early March is our big annual. You know, four days of all the reps from each team that come in, so that's a production.
And then after that, it's a little bit of a deep breath, but then we have, you know, medical committee hearings and all of this other things. And then, and then all of a sudden camp starting. Right? And so it was one of those things where, you know, you you've, to your point, you, you think that people think that football is, and I give, I actually get the league a lot of credit for this.
They've turned some of these offseason things into big properties. I think that really drive engagement and that keep people engaged. And I think, and I always, people always are, what do you think about the league? And I have a lot of obviously, random opinions about the league, but I think the one thing they do incredibly well is bill properties and things that they've turned into cost centers and things like.
You know, the combine, like look at what the combines become. They've done a good job with that. The super bowl is remarkably different than when I first got into the league. So all of those things are just, you know, they do a really good job with that stuff and it just, and again, it just creates more, more things to fill a vacuum.
And, and so it's, it's more work.
Yeah. And, and you were integral in the negotiation of this latest CBA, which created labor peace. I, out to 2030 for the NFL, going into the negotiation, what were some of the most, I guess, important points that you wanted to make sure you accomplished and. You know, how did that differ from what I guess you saw that had happened in the last CBA?
Yeah, I think, you know, the first, when you're, when you're thinking about the CBA and you're thinking about, okay, how do you go about this? The first is I think we spent the better part of a year gathering information from the players and okay. What's important to you guys. What's what's important to you.
What do you think about it? How do you look at it? You know, what does that go? And, and, and, and for me, I really tried a bucket, the issues in a certain way, and, and it's a very unionists think about it, but I was like, think about your professional career, et cetera, in wages, hours, working conditions and health and safety.
Right. And that's something that Dee Smith would say a lot, but I thought it was a useful frame because, because when you said, Hey, what do you not like about the CVA? Or what do you like about the CBA guys would say, well, You know, it's 350 pages, where do you want me to start? Right. Like, and, and, and sometimes it, it, it it's.
So, and I think when you've seen this and maybe in your life, when you've got a big project in your hands, or you get something, it kind of feels a little overwhelming. Right. So you're like, okay, how do I compartmentalize all of these issues and thinking about and thinking through. So I really wanted to put those, I wanted to bucket them out for the guys.
And then after we did that, we went into each bucket and really started laying out. Okay. Let's just talk about the wages bucket. Okay. We got the rookie system, we've got free agency. We've got tags. We've got, you know, you go down the line, you've got obviously AR and how that's computed and the percentage of, and then whatever.
So. I think the biggest thing for me was it's this thing wasn't about me. And it wasn't about what I thought we should do it. Wasn't thought about what it was really about me and the staff and Dee and everybody going out and finding out what the players want. And I thought that was the most important frame that we could, we could make sure that everyone understood was.
Listen, we, we're not all gonna agree on what's important. We're not all gonna agree on everything here, but we're going to have a system and we're going to have a process in place where we gather a ton of information and we're able to come to come. Some consensus is around. What's important to us and things that we're willing to really fight for.
And I thought that was a, where we spent a lot of time, obviously, where we landed was. You know, percentage of AR you know, it, you know, I know a lot of people, it's not all about money. It's not all about money, but a lot of it is about money and, and that the end of the day we're professionals and we're professional athletes, and that's how we make it living.
Right. And so, you know, we're the ones on the field were the ones taking the rest are the ones out there. And so the percentage of revenue. we wanted to go up and that ended up happening. Right. and when you start talking about $16 billion of revenue, you know, each, each 10th of April scent is material, right?
And so every time you move that clicker up, that's something that's material. I think. guys wanted a better system and how to get the free agency. So when you really look at how everybody comes in this rookie system, right. You know, having it much more based on set up where you're drafted, having it based on performance, right where your fifth year now is, is fully guaranteed.
If it's tagged your fourth year becomes guaranteed. And on top of that, That that that value that's placed on your fifth year is really more based on what you did in the first three years than it is based on, on, you know, something some random, Hey, was I picked 10th? Was I picked eighth, was I picked 11th?
You know, that was something I think that really frustrated people. And then when you start looking at the tags and start looking at some of those things, making sure that they were expensive enough where. There weren't a lot of guys getting them. And if the guys were getting them, they still had some leverage in the salary cap and there's still had some leverage to force a longterm contract and then make sure guys there that obviously wanted to open up some more roads around getting guys as much fully guaranteed money as the market would bear.
So obviously tried to lift some of the regulations around that. Getting into the working conditions and really putting, putting together a lot of the things that I think health and safety people have been talking about, making sure when you go into camp that it's not a immediate spike and that you're gradually working into a, a workload.
I mean, that was something that I think, you think about strains and you think about pulled muscles and things like that. You know, you can't, you can't make the club if you're in the tub. Right. And it's not necessarily always the concussions and it's not always, you know, the hits it's Hey, I pulled my hamstring.
I can't play for two weeks. That sets you back. Right. So those things were important about making sure that we had a, That we had a good system in place there. And then a lot of obviously following the science off the field, making sure that the benefits package was right for all the players. I think the one thing we've done a really good job of in the last 10 years even is getting to an, getting guys to understand the value of their benefits and understand that.
Putting money away is it's, it's a way of deferring compensation and, and, and, and really a lot of ways in a tax advantaged way. So we really stuck a lot of money into, into benefits for these guys, but also we went back and, we raised the pensions of. Everybody that played before 2011. And, and, and so that was something that I'm extremely proud of.
and you know, a lot of guys got really big raises. and they were part of, they were part of building this league and we wanted to make sure that they were brought along. So I couldn't, I can't hit every single one of them, but those were the things that literally just come to my mind as we talk.
Well, so to that point, you have so many different constituencies that you're balancing and they all have such different. Desires and demands as it relates to the CBA. So you've got guys that are making 30, 40, $50 million a year and they want certain things. And then you've got a lot more guys who are like, let me just guarantee some money.
Let me Garren see some benefits. So if I get hurt that I'm not just on the street. And then you've also got to think about like, yeah, after your career, other things like that. And then on top of that for the first time in this type of negotiation, There's social media involved. So you have some of the top guys with the biggest followings in the world on these platforms, and you talked about, Hey, we want to gather information from the players and you know, that was a real big focus.
And there's, you know what I mean? You use like new tools just to be able to do that, but then you're kind of under fire from like these big names. And as fans, we're like, Yeah, no, this is my quarterback. Like he's right. How come they're not focused on that? And you're like, well, there's 53 men on this roster and there's others
ERIC AUDIO FROM LOCAL TO ZOOM
God, there's 2000 guys. You're a hundred percent. Right. You know what? And, and listen, and you know what all of them are. Right. And I don't say that tongue in cheek, but they're all right, because you are where you stand and where you,
where you come into this league
in how you navigate yourself
guy on the roster or the first guy on the
perceive the league, how you perceive fairness and how you
perceive how what's right.
And what's wrong. Right. And that's not uncommon to really how we think about, you know, some of the democratic principles of America, the tax code and all kinds of stuff. Right. I mean, you can have some, you can get out there and some of those, so it's not surprising to me that. You know, some of the star players might not like some of the things that we're really fighting for on the minimums.
Right. Because they haven't been affected by that. Right. And that's okay. Like they, they shouldn't worry about some of that stuff and they should be fighting for some of that stuff. But in this job, I've found that you gotta do the best you can for the most amount of people that you can.
ERIC AUDIO FROM ZOOM TO LOCAL
and from there, try to create avenues where if a guy's not directly benefiting from something he's not prohibited
and getting some something more as well. And I think that is an area where, I really always tried to land as that. Hey, you
why are we, you know, again, to your point, pushing minimum salaries up so much, if I'm going to get the franchise tag well, okay.
You know, we're going to go push that because that affects 40 guys on the roster. Right. And that going to affect the massive,
majority of our guys. And, but at the same time time, we're going to make sure that there's new restrictions around maybe the franchise tag or something. I'm just picking something.
Right. the franchise tag was largely kind of not, not materially changed. I don't want to make, it could seem like I'm saying that, but, that's the thought process I think we've always had now. I will say that. You know, you heard a lot from a lot of guys and a lot of different ways and there again, and
believe this they're all right.
but at the same time, I do believe in, you know, I think you've heard it. And if you were in
I was in those star players at the same time, wanting to make sure that the rank and file guys were getting raises and were being taken care of. And there were plenty of players that might not have been on social media.
Might not have done some things, but there are plenty of 'em that wanted to make sure that those guys were taken care of too as well. So while there
lot of, there are a lot of ways the media was trying to spin, you know, what was going on. it, it was true in certain terms, but another terms, I do think you had some guys that were, that were, were.
Doing it from a place where they thought that was best for everybody as well. And, and there's a lot of guys out there and I'd be remiss if I didn't say that there weren't a lot of star players advocating for things that didn't directly
benefit them as well.
Yeah, for sure. You know, one of the biggest things that I think we've seen, Tim and I just as sort of fans and people that have, that have been in this world is the changing narrative of the broke athlete. And. I think how different PAs and different leagues have responded to it, whether it's through education, financial literacy, you talked about really pushing the benefits program.
How did the NFL PA respond to that sort of legacy narrative? And where do you hope that change goes from here? Especially in regards to the idea of players that go through financial insolvency a few years from retirement.
Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's
so frustrated that this topic is
well, I don't know if it's the number one on my list, but it's up there on the things that kind of just get me get my blood boiling a little bit, you know, as I did this article, you know, I guess when I was 10 years ago and I had some crazy stat of.
Oh, well, you know, within, you know, five years of retirement, 75 guys are broke and, and, or divorced
or whatever. And, and, and, and no matter how many times I've said it and how many times we've proved it, that stat is like complete fiction. And, and, and, and, and the guy who wrote it, if you go back and look that
guy who wrote it,
it's actually been completely, ostracized as a writer and has been known to, to put other fictional things out there.
And not that weren't really backed up. So
me because I think some of those questions, and I'm not saying that question was necessarily. post from that standpoint, but it always feels like there's a twinge of, I, I saw this thing that says, you know, all you guys go broke after you're done.
And the thing that worries me about it is that sometimes it becomes a little bit of a self fulfilling prophecy on some of this stuff, right? Like I'm going to have problems. I don't know how to like assimilate back into, you know, not being a football player. And so I think it ends up creating, I think.
More harm than it does. Good. Because I do think there is some good from the idea of like, Hey, listen, you got to think about things differently. You've got to curb your spending where I try to attack it from was, you know, a financial literacy plan. And, that's something that I'm pretty proud of. You know, I helped write a financial literacy.
Program that we, that we put out there, it's still in somewhat of a pilot phase. It's in about 10, 10 program at 10 teams or 12 teams,
this fall. And the idea is we do some, we do some education for first year players, but the education we're doing is, is to advance. Right. You know, when I was in the locker room, you get this check.
And the check. It shows you your, your, your, your money comes in and then it shows you all the deductions, right? So you have taxes and you have some guy named FICA, taken some money out from you, and you got these property taxes are not property, but state taxes. And he got Medicare and, and nobody really tells you what those are.
Right. And I, and I went to a, I was. I have a finance major and I don't remember any class in college that sat down and told you, Hey, ghost. And you're going to get this paycheck. And this paycheck is going to have a lot of deductions and here's, and here's what they're saying. Right. And so that's where I try to attack it from was maybe more on the cost side and thinking about it was okay.
You know what you're going to make, but you have a lot of cost here that you're not understanding. Right? You have a lot of expenses that let's go over what a deductible is and a health insurance plan. Right. Let's go over it about like, Hey, you know, when you buy that house, the car, the price tag on the house is only the, the first part, right?
There's property taxes, there's insurance, the car the same way. So thinking about it from really trying to teach up and when I, what I kind of called the startup cost of life, Right. You have a lot of guys that come into the league and have a lot of money. Yeah. And literally I have no possessions, right.
Because all of, most, most Americans and most everybody else, you slowly accumulate possessions. Right? You move into an apartment, you get a couch and get a TV. You might not have anything else. And then you'd get a small house. Right? And so you get two couches and, you know, you solely accumulate things. You know, when you're, when you're this level, you can accumulate things a lot faster, which, which also means you can make bigger and bigger mistakes.
Right. If you don't know what you're doing, you don't see it. Right. And so I think we always attacked it from a level of, Oh, well, you have to save. And if you save, then you have this yield curve and you have all these other things that are going to help you and don't worry about it. Right. And I wanted to tackle it from, it was like, okay, wait a minute.
You know, the, the things that you think you're buying cost a lot more than they do. and, and, and you need to, I understand, okay, what are the people around you, right? Your financial advisor, what sort of credentials they need to have, what sort of experience they need to have, what kind of backing they need to have that makes sure that you're, you're positioning yourself and you have the right professionals around you to make sure you're successful.
So that's where I attacked it from. And then I wanted to build from year one to year two to year three, and then have, Hey. You know, why don't you try to take a, you know, an executive ed K you know, to jump into that or, or to go over into this school and do some things along that line to let guys continue education as they've done.
So it's been reasonably effective, but that's something I definitely hope that's built out more. And that, guys keep thinking about
to do some of that is.
Yeah, I'm, I'm glad you addressed that piece because I think what most fans don't understand that this is something Tim and I, when we launched the show said, is that, you know, that the average human being, isn't going to understand the concept of making such a bulk of your career earnings by the time you're 30.
And you think about like, okay, now while you're figuring out whatever that second act is for you, you've got to figure out how to live off of that capital. And so, yeah, you're, you know, spending habits are one piece of it. And then I think that the documentaries and SSI cover that, but it's just, again, it's a very, very different thing.
And that's the way I say it to people. It's like, imagine how much money you made until you were 30. Now think about what you had to do if you had to live for another decade, just off of, of what you had saved. And I think that's the concept that, you know, again, having folks like you on the show, we're trying to reach out to other folks and make them understand like, yeah, this is a thing that if, unless you've lived it, you just don't understand what that, what that's like.
so on that topic of transitioning to post-career, we talked about why you got active in the PA. Was there any appeal to expose yourself to those things off the field in a way that would set you up for a career, post football now that you're chief partnerships officer at one team partners.
Well, you know,
just something that I've always been interested.
I've always been interested in business. I've always been interested in, you know, how do you, how'd you make that widget and how did, what were you thinking of when you made their widget and why is that widget good? And, and so, you know, the
to leverage, you know,
through the league was,
was that networking and meeting people.
And I know that's kind of a cliche word now and. In that way, but
I wanted to
some of the opportunities to like, you know, when you were at a charity event, you made some, you met someone that owned their own business, or you met someone that seemed to be successful. Okay. Well, what is it that has made you successful?
What is it in a, not, not in a cliche way, but how do you think about that? Why do you, why did you go down that path? What was it about this business that was interesting to you? And so I've always just been interested in that and understanding that. There literally is thousands and thousands of ways
to, to build a business, to develop a product,
might be, to think about things just
and to monetize it
So, that was kind of the first step
that I always had
I just, just interested
it. Right. And then
for me, after I got
I, I just, I always felt like I wanted to go back to school and either do a lot
you know, when I was at the, at the union,
wasn't a lawyer,
but I stayed at a holiday Inn express a couple of times at night.
So I feel like I kind of had the labor law degree. and so I, you know, not to say that I was or not, but it was,
always interesting. I always felt like lawyers. The one thing I would say they get a bad rap on is obviously everybody, you know, lawyers, lawyers, this. But they, they are, they're very trained on understanding issues, dissecting topics.
And that's why I think you also see more and more of them in the business world now, quite frankly, and doing well. If you look at a lot of CEOs, they're lawyers by trade, they don't admit it, but they're lawyers by trade and, and there's a certain training that you get. I think when you do that, I decided to go the
tell you, go get your business degree and all
the business guys
tell you to go get your law degree. and it just goes to kind of show you, right? Like. But, I went
to a Wharton business school after I was not at U Penn and it was awesome, but it really turned my brain back on.
And I don't mean that in like a negative way, but yeah, I was outside the football bubble for the first time, really in my life. And I was meeting people that did things that
had nothing to do. It was sports and getting to talk to him and really getting reacquainted with some of the hard skills that
you know, getting back into
the balance sheets, of, of accounting and understanding the cash flows and, and, and getting
back into statistics and everything that go along with, with, with that kind of schooling. And for me, it just, it, it re-energized that side of me that said, Hey, you know, you can just stay in the football world.
And that's great. And I had some coaching opportunities after I was done, had some opportunities in the scouting world, which I thought were really interesting and, and who knows, maybe I'll lead back there, but. I just kind of wanted to get out and do something and put some of those skills to use and just kind of test my metal at something else.
And I'm all for, I'm the kind of guy that wakes up and has a pack calendar. And that jacks me up. Like some people are like, Oh my God, I'm gonna have a busy day. Like, I'm all in. Like when my calendar isn't full, I'm just like, Oh man, I'm going to have to find something to do today. Right. And so that. For me, that is for whatever reason that I really, really enjoy that.
I like it. And so I, that was just, again, that's just something that I was interested in. So this was somewhat of a natural intersection for me, where. One team is a, is a JV of the NFL, PA the MLB PA and where they capital partner called Redbird capital. Who's played big into the sports space and I have my little brother's in private equity.
So, you know, I've always been interested in that. And, and so it's one of those things where it was just a great intersection. I was part of, kind of the Genesis of one team when I was at the NFL PA side. And then, a guy I worked with for a long time left to take the CEO position of this among the are.
I think a lot
OD and, and, and, you know, again, I thought it was a perfect entry point for me just personally, to try to jumpstart some of that. And
we'll see what
happens. you know, I'm
not one of those. Necessarily five-year planner type guys. I've had a lot of people say, Oh, you know,
think of your
life in six month increments to your increments.
Five-year now you gotta,
you gotta plan the
whole thing out.
know, I don't know if I'm smart enough yet to plan the whole thing out. but I'm having fun.
enjoyed it. The mission of the company. I really enjoy
Yeah. Tell, tell us a bit more about that. Cause it is, it is a very interesting sort of, one of a, one of a kind things. So, so how, how exactly does it work when you have a relationship between these PAs? And I guess what's the, the goal that one team is trying to accomplish.
Yeah. So a lot of people don't realize each or not each PA, but a lot of the big PAs have a for-profit licensing arm. And what, and, and Ahmad comes from that for a profit licensing
arm. And, and
was very involved
with the for-profit licensing on for obvious reasons
when I was at the union, when you're at where
you're a licensing company.
at a union,
there's some obvious constraint and it's not bad constraints. It's not that they're, we're just constraints. Right. And so I think what you guys have seen in Tim, even in your world of venture, you're starting to see just. Sports really moving outside of that natural confines of licensing, sponsorships, selling hot dogs.
You know what I mean? It is,
very, very robust. And what we felt like is we needed to have a vehicle that matched that and had the ability to do a lot of that. And it just sitting inside the union didn't so what we said is, Hey, we've got some core competencies you're in licensing around video games, trading cards, and we felt like.
Our values were undervalued in a lot of ways because we weren't able to have some of the leverage and negotiations that the league has had with EA. We weren't able to have some of them think about the trading card industry in different ways. Because again, when you're a licenser, you're, it's not a bad thing, but you're a toll taker.
Right. You're taking a toll and you're trying to max that tall, but it also prevents you from making investments. It also also prevents you from thinking sometimes longterm because you're trying to satisfy it. Right? Right. So being able to spin a few of those business lines out of the PA, and again, there were still, you know, we're owned by the PAs and we're majority owned by the PA.
So we still have a lot of those roots and that's what it is. But at
We are trying to build a company around, not just the licensing and sponsorship side, but thinking about a venture vertical where we're aggregating a lot
a lot of the. Deal flow that we're seeing. So at the NFL PA, we were seeing a lot of these interesting companies come through the door that couldn't, so Sarah, they get a license, right.
Or D couldn't
but we're like,
to be involved in something like that. Right. And so finding ways and having capital I'll be a perfect example back in, I think 2012, I think it was or 13 Uber, Uber came to us and we did a deal across the league with players and everybody got it, Uber credit,
but they also
said, Hey, listen, like.
If you always want to invest some we'll open up the round backup and you guys can invest as much as you want. That's back when Uber was a billion dollar or $2 billion company, you know, and, and, and I, you know,
those are. one in a million probably 10 might even have a better stat on that.
But at the same time, w we've seen a lot of those we've seen Slack
Yeah. You're seeing, DocuSign earlier. We've seen a
these companies early
on because there's, again, there's that weird intersection where athletes now haven't just become. a place where it's good to have these
validators of these businesses, right?
And, and they're, and they're perfect spokesman for them, these businesses. And they understand these bills is yes. The same reason. Oracle puts their name on a basketball stadium. There are B2B business, but yet they think it's important for them to be out there in that mind. And in the public mind like that, again, sports is, is somewhat of a, a
cultural validator for people.
So, we wanted to be able to play in that space and so aggregating more and more of these unions. allows us to do that with interesting deal flow with it, with different kinds of athletes. and then obviously we have a content arm and an athlete marketing arm, and we're, again, we're able to make, we're able to hire people that we wouldn't be able to hire
make, we got investments that we wouldn't be able to make investments otherwise.
verticals and a lot of these companies. And since we've launched, we've brought on the MLS PA the us women's national team, the WN BPA. U S men's and women's rugby. So,
and we really
think this is this, the start, right? Like we do, we, you know, we're out there. And
is to, is to go speak with rights holders.
say rights holders
broadly, because why we started as owners, you know, the athletes are our main cog.
a lot of the things I said can be spread to a lot of different ways. Like it doesn't have to just be. A athlete as the rights holder, right? You can think of brands. You can think of team marks.
Even you can think of a lot of different areas where you can think on the court corporate side and licensing. If you have a licensing arm, why couldn't you do some of the corporate licensing that some people haven't thought of? So. There's a lot of ideas that we have. Obviously we look at this as much more of a platform than a bot, right.
And I say that is a lot of people think of their company as, Oh, we will, we only do licensing or we only do sponsorships or we only do this and that's what we do now. Right. And that's, and I say that as a juxtaposition of it, if you have an idea or we come up with an idea around insurance or around whatever.
One team is a platform in which we can think about that. And we can actually make the right investments into launching that vertical. And I think that's, what's different. Cool about one team is that I really believe this three years from now, we're going to have a revenue vertical. I think it's going to be substantial of something I haven't thought of.
And we haven't talked about. Right. And that's okay. And I, and I don't know what it is, obviously. I wish I did. And if you guys know, let me know. But, but at
the same time, I do think
pop up and we're gonna realize like, Oh man. Like that was something that I can't believe. We didn't think of that.
And now we're in it and now we're growing it in something else. So that's, that's how we're thinking
in the youth sports space, there's some interesting ideas there, but
think the sky's really the limit for one too.
Yeah, it's a pretty powerful proposition. When you combine all of those factors that you're talking about, the ability of athletes and sports to validate things, the fact that you guys have access by way of. The athletes and in what they stand for and their reach. and then also that you're willing to put capital behind it with, with such an incredible partner, like Redbird, who many of our listeners probably know for being instrumental in a lot of things, including the formation of legends between, the Steinbrenner's and the Jones family.
Unfortunately, we gotta let you go here pretty quick. So we'll, we'll move into just a couple of questions we always like to wrap up with. And the first one is, what is some advice. You would give your younger self with all that you know now?
by the Fang stocks. I'm sorry.
Listen, listen, listen to yourself. When you're looking at that new Apple phone saying like, wow, I really think this is going to be different.
yeah. You know, always, always time travel
stocks or whatever.
You know, I would
on, I got
caught up in and not living in the moment and it was to the point was okay, you know, I got to the NFL now, you know, I got to, how am I going to become a starter and how am I going to get that next contract?
And then once I got the next contract, it was. You know, and, and I finally realized, you know, four or five years in the league and I was like, I'm
my dream at that point. And I was always just consumed about what was next and, and, and it's okay to have goals and it's okay to, to have something to shoot for and to think about it.
But we get so consumed about what's down the road. What, what can we, we go to that? We forget like, man, this. Every day is a blessing, right? And every day is, you know, the old quote of, you know, they call, they call today the person because, you know, that's what it is. Right. You know, it's a gift. And I really try to think about life a little bit more that way and think about, Hey, let's maximize what today brings not to say that let's not look down the road and think about stuff, but I would just tell my younger self to.
Do everything you can to maximize the day and to stop worrying about things that really are out of your control.
I love that. And the, I guess, along that vein, the last question we ask everybody is what is one lesson? That you take from your on-field career that is carrying with you in the world of business today.
Good question. Our good, good point. You know, and I learned this actually going back to school is that hard work matters. And putting in the time matters and putting in dedicated time of it matters. Right? I think we get a, and I'm going to get on my soap box here because I do believe this, but everybody thinks about talent and IQ way too much in this world and in, in people and they become, it becomes this polarizing state of well, am I good enough?
Or I'm not. And it's like, It's it's much more of a, of a range, right. And the people that are willing to put in the time, the people that are willing to put in the effort and to think about things and to think about your career and to think about how to block this guy and how am I going to do this? That, you know, all of a sudden, I'm not a good writer, but all of that.
And I've been writing for a year and now I'm a much better writer. Right. And it, well, it wasn't talent. Yeah. Right. It was actually you doing it. Right. And so I think that's
the one thing
that I'm carrying now is that. I do feel like I'm a fish out of water sometimes. Right. I feel like I'm behind some of my counterparts and I feel like, man, I maybe I'm just not smart enough.
Or maybe I just like, not capable or maybe I don't know, finance enough to do this and that, then I really try to harken back to like, Oh yeah, like I haven't been doing this for a while, but I'm going to put in to two times the amount of time and I'm going to, you know, Well, the nice thing about being a football player is you actually in your mind think, starting the day at 7:00 AM and then finishing the day at 7:00 PM is like a normal cadence.
Right. And so that, that's the nice thing about this is like,
when you you're doing it, it's like, Oh, I'm just doing the everyday day. And like,
and then when you kind of, you know, you step outside of that, you call somebody at seven 30 thinking that, yeah, they're already grinding. Like, they're like, what do you need?
Right. Is there something on fire? And so that's, I think that's I using those. That thought process as a benefit now
to try to really
scale, you know, my, my understandings, my learnings, and just becoming more and more proficient at what I'm doing and just trying to suck all the knowledge. I was like Keenan.
I said, I'm living in the moment, but I still have a lot of goals and I still have a lot of thoughts of
what I want to do.
And it's, it's
going to get there by sitting on my butt, you know, thinking that,
hopefully I have enough talent to do it.
No, I love that. And one of my favorite quotes is that hard work, beats talent. When talent doesn't work hard. And, and I love that you carry that mentality with you. So Eric, we just want to thank you so much for joining us on the game plan and really walking us through the ins and outs of the NFL, PA the CBA, and also all the great things that you're doing with one team.
So we're excited to stay in touch with you, and we'll definitely follow up if we find any interesting companies that, that one team should get
into early and often.
well, as you can tell, I love talking about myself. So
time to you guys, I'm just joking.
Anytime you guys, want to reach
happy to come on. I'm
guys are doing this and, and again,
We love that. Thanks, Eric.
All right. Everybody hated her. Love it. It's time for another partner rundown on the game plan. Let's get right into it. This week's guest on the game plan was former NFL, PA president Eric Winston, Jay, you worked at the NFL for years. What's your thoughts on the collective bargaining agreement?
Yeah, Tim, you know, I was just in all listening to Eric about his tenure as NFL PA president. Just how much he got accomplished over his time there. And look, these things are not easy. I mean, they took NFL revenue, 47%, which was the players split in the past CBA. Up to 48% and then with a kicker to go to 49% when the league gets to a 17 game season.
Now add on top of that. Okay. 1% probably isn't a lot, but when you look at it from the perspective of the league is a $15 billion property than $150 million added to what the players are getting is incredible. So on top of that, they added roster spots. They increased the minimum for practice squad guys.
And then on top of that, they relaxed drug testing and took some disciplinary power away from the commissioner. All getting accomplished while the star players are on Twitter complaining about that. They're not getting everything they want. Meanwhile, the PA and Eric are fighting to get the 60% of guys that are, you know, fringe roster, guys that are just trying to figure out if they can make a squad, get them the benefits and things that they need.
So, you know, it's really a no win scenario. Every topic is a dog fight. And so it was great to just see how much Eric really got done.
let's not forget. He also wrapped this up as a global pandemic was just getting going this past March, not to mention it was his last duty as president of the NFL PA. So what a bear he was wrestling with, I want to focus. On the point about all the different constituencies and players he had to represent.
So we're talking about over 2000 players, voices that he went out, the PA went out and said, let's get your feedback. Let's hear what you have to say. We want to make something that works for everyone, but that's such a challenge when you have massive contract players, but then you also have guys just fighting.
To really make a roster. And then you add to that, that those top top guys, when there's only a handful of them are being loud on social media, about how they may not agree with the CBA on something. So the challenge there really unbelievable, and he did an excellent job, which is going to lead to labor peace for the next 10 years.
Yeah, Tim, in that same conversation with Eric Winston, we talked about how the NFL PA in one team collective got really early looks at these unicorn startups like Uber, Slack and DocuSign. So you were in a similar position when you were working with the global sports venture studio. So help me understand how should startups approach their conversations with these kinds of organizations.
Yeah, I think that's the right question to ask is how does the startup approach it? Because there's so much out there for them to think about there's accelerators, venture studios, collectives demo days. And it seems like the opportunity to engage in those things are unlimited, but there's costs that come with that.
There's the time that you put into pursuing those things. That is a challenge. There's a, the fact that it's unclear at times, like, is there a fundraise is our capital at the end of this? I'm not sure. So you gotta do your homework a little bit before you engage. You got to understand that most of these vehicles are actually marketing arms that are trying to promote whatever assets they have and use that as leverage to work with you.
So as long as you're going in with that mindset, You can do some big things.
I think that last piece you mentioned makes a lot of sense, especially from the marketing standpoint, where we talk about on the show, a lot that the power of the brand is shifting from leagues and teams to the players themselves. And that's not even just. The biggest players are the biggest name stars who are going to get endorsement and partnership deals from big brands and startups alike.
I'm talking about the local heroes, the guys that everybody knows in green Bay or Arizona, they're the ones that still should be able to leverage their platform and their brand. And I think when you have something like the PA and the one team collected that comes and says, we're going to collectively negotiate.
These partnerships and these relationships separate from the NFL and the NFL is brand partners to be able to allow startups and brands to leverage the name and likeness and image of these players. Well, that's growing the pie for everybody, but it's also letting the guys who are, you know, maybe not as recognizable, still share in some of that action.
So I think overall, this is a positive thing. I think startups should start to leverage it and really see where their brand could benefit from an association with a top tier sports league. Yeah.
So switching gears a bit, it happens about once a month where the conversation on tech, Twitter naturally devolves into a debate around operator first, non operator VCs. Jay, I know this is one of your favorite topics to get into, so let's hear it.
Yeah, look, Tim Twitter has never been the place for news. Conversation. So take all of this with a grain of salt, but there has never been any data. Yeah. The positively correlates a former operator being a better VC. I mean, this is just something that folks perpetuate because it's a narrative that, that suits them.
Look at the end of the day. There's also no data that suggests that a former operator is going to be a more empathetic VC because you know, they were a founder themselves becoming a founder. Doesn't automatically make you a more empathetic person. Just look, ask the founders of a way or Uber, or we were.
At the end of the day, you as a startup have to assess what is it that I actually want from my VCs? What am I looking for? What is the relationship that I want to have? And at what stage does that change and what do I expect from them? So at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what their background is.
It matters what other startups tell you and what you can do from a diligence standpoint to see what you want to get out of your VC.
Yeah. And I think you hit the nail on the head. This is definitely one of those debates. That's perfect for Twitter because it's completely dualistic it's as if it could only be one or the other. And the reality is that's just not how the world works and that's not how fundraising works. So there's benefits to both.
And we can't even generalize all VCs. It's about who you're across the table from look them in the eye, figure out what they bring to the table. What do you need as a company? What do you need as a founder? And usually the first thing is capital, right? So once the capital is taken care of, then we start to go down the checklist and it can be very powerful to have a former operator, you know, alongside you and helping you along the way.
But there's also a flip side of that, that they may bring in some of their biases that don't necessarily jive with where you want to take your company. So I think you need to take that into account. I think you need to see what's available to you. And then at the end of the day, you gotta make the call on your own.
Yeah, look, you're absolutely right, Tim. And lastly, where we'll close is Shopify recently announced that they hired. Former Adidas, Yeezy GM, John Wexler. Wexler's new position is going to be to lead partnerships at Shopify with creators and influencers. I know you've got some hot takes on celebrity and influencer driven brands.
So what do we make of this?
Yeah, I mean, I thought that I'd put away my soap box. I can't really find it to yell and scream at celebrity co-founders to go do it. As I talked about with Ryan Reynolds and his success with aviation gin. Now look, I think this is great. I think the bigger piece is that. Shopify really is dedicated to creating more tools that enable more entrepreneurs to do more things.
Is this going to help a creator influence or big time celebrity develop a brand and distributed overnight? Not really, but John Wexler has incredible experience. He really did help stay stand up the easy line. So hopefully what we see from the PR cascade can turn into even more celebrities getting involved.
Cause I love to see it.
I'm glad you brought up the point about Ryan Reynolds and aviation. Cause I think we're going to see a huge wave of these celebrity and influencer driven brands because they've already got the media and the community that, that follows them, their fandom. Now, they just need the tools to actually monetize that in a way that still feels authentic to who they are and what their brand is.
And when you bring somebody like Wexler on to help leave Shopify, he took a Yeezy 240 million in revenue last year by Kanye, his own admission turned him into a multi-time billionaire. But then also has help folks like Beyonce and frail Williams create these brands. I think for Shopify, this makes a lot of sense because you know, Shopify is now also facing competition on their end.
Sure. They're the market leader. They've got the tools that everybody wants to use money. Now, there are startups that are coming in and saying, we're going to take one subset of it, and we're going to disrupt what Shopify does. So look, Shopify has gone and done partnerships with affirm. They have expanded their, their partnership and relationship with Walmart.
And now they're obviously going after the creator and influencer economy. I think this is a great opportunity for them. They're already killing it. I mean, they've had 55 to 60% month on month, new store creation on their platform. So I don't think they need my help to tell them, but I think this is a phenomenal, step that they're taking.
And I'm just excited to see where Shopify goes from here.
yeah. The more tools and more offerings for entrepreneurs, the better you love to see it, Jay. Thanks for joining me on this week's partner rundown. Always a pleasure.
Well, that's it for this week's episode of the game plan with Jacob and Tim Scott. We just want to hit on a few things before you go big. Thank you to our guest, Eric Winston for giving us a peek behind the curtain of what it was like to run the NFL PA as well as insight into his journey from playing field to boardroom, shout out to our friend David Simmons, who helped make the introduction to our guest special.
Thanks. Go out to our producers will Richardson as well as Megan Rojas for all of their hard work and packaging up and promoting the game plan. Last, but not least thank you for listening. If you made it this far, you must really like the game plan. Find us on Twitter at the game plan show, and please leave us a five star review on iTunes.
We'll see you next week on the game plan.