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New NFL Program Awards Licenses to Underrepresented Brands

The National Football League is launching a program called Leaders under which brands, collaborators and artists from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities can obtain NFL licenses to manufacture and sell products with official league marks and logos.

The people selected will also have access to NFL resources such as product development, marketing support and retail placement.

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The inaugural brands under the Leaders program are Blitz Champz, Distortedd, Hedley & Bennett and S.T.A.B.L.E. Goods.

Blitz Champz is a Black-owned card game created by Adrienne Smith, an entrepreneur and the wide receiver for the Boston Renegades, who has created an NFL collection of playing cards for each of the league’s 32 teams. Anhia Zaira Santana, known as Distortedd, is a Latina visual artist, illustrator and animator. As part of Leaders, Distortedd produced a T-shirt collection inspired by NFL team mascots and logos. Hedley & Bennett is a Los Angeles-based, female-owned kitchenware company founded by Ellen Bennett, who created NFL-themed pro-level cooking essentials and accessories. S.T.A.B.L.E. Goods is a Black-owned independent luxury luggage and bag brand founded by Rashad Lyons. As part of the Leaders program, S.T.A.B.L.E. Goods will create NFL-themed duffel bags, cross-body bags and backpacks.

“Leaders is an integral continuation of the NFL’s commitment to supporting diverse companies throughout every aspect of our business,” said Jonathan Beane, senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer at the NFL. “We are proud to partner with these four brands to ensure that diverse entrepreneurs get their fair share of the league’s resources and influence, and to ensure that the league’s brands reach new audiences.”

“Leaders represents a fresh take on how the NFL discovers and works with new businesses, bringing diverse brands to the league’s expansive licensing portfolio. By lowering the barrier to entry, the NFL is now exposed to new and exciting retail partners outside of our typical assortment,” said Xaimara Coss, director of licensing at the NFL.

The NFL has collaborated with No Caller ID, a sports and media intellectual property marketplace to assist in managing the Leaders program and source other brands to be included in the future.

Merchandise created under Leaders will be available on NFLshop.com.

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