Greentop Gifts and Signables Named the First Playmakers in NFLPA’s Driven Accelerator
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 2022 – Greentop Gifts and Signables are the first two companies to participate in the NFL Players Association’s Driven program, which accelerates diverse-led, early-stage consumer product businesses through a robust two-year group licensing and marketing curriculum. Driven is designed to facilitate opportunity and growth for diverse business entrepreneurs (or “Playmakers,” as the NFLPA recognizes them) by creating access to conversations, education, mentorship, and resources that would level the playing field and position them for long-term success.
At the root of the diversity gap in licensing is what the NFLPA defines as “sideline culture” – the systemic and inequitable reality experienced daily by business leaders who are people of color, women and/or individuals from other underrepresented groups. Launched in October 2021, Driven is committed to breaking down institutional barriers and supporting diverse entrepreneurs through unique access to NFL players for branded products and marketing power.
“Our goal for Driven is to serve as a model across the licensing industry to empower diverse entrepreneurs by offering access to product development services, mentorship, funding, strategic introductions, player licensing rights and marketing support,” said Terese Whitehead, Vice President, Consumer Products & Strategy, NFL Players Inc. “We want to build a foundation that helps get products representing all fans into the pipeline and, through the accelerator, allow Driven Playmakers to extend their business by connecting with other licensors in sports and beyond.”
The Playmakers were selected based on a wide range of criteria including, among other areas, market phase, distribution, third-party license opportunity, diversity of leadership, product and target audience, category, revenue model and competitive advantage. The program will guide companies from product development through go-to-market stages to ensure they are prepared for growth and long-term success with an NFLPA group license. The first two Playmakers will benefit from a two-year program designed to accelerate their business by leveraging NFLPA’s strategic assets and group licensing rights. These rights grant access to more than 2,000 active NFL players and their marketing influence.
The two-year Driven program offers:
- An opportunity for funding, mentorship, research and development, product creation and marketing support.
- Consultation from licensing and consumer product experts, sports business executives, entrepreneurs, investors and athletes.
- Coaching sessions and special events to help navigate and thrive in the licensing ecosystem.
1863 Ventures, a business development program that accelerates New Majority entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth, will provide business coaching and mentorship to help Playmakers achieve their business goals and objectives. The Playmakers’ new player-centric product lines will be licensed in collaboration with Fanatics, the NFLPA’s exclusive apparel and hardlines partner.
Founders: Jacquelyn Rodgers and Shaun Rodgers
After Jacquelyn Rodgers couldn’t find wrapping paper that represented the diverse nature of her family – she created the wrapping paper herself. A former Mars and Nestle USA executive, Jacquelyn started Greentop Gifts with her husband, Shaun. The family-run, woman-owned business is nationally recognized for its multicultural celebration decor, apparel, gifts and gifting supplies featuring characters and images that represent and reflect the real world.
Founders: Kuda Biza and Lauren Cecchi
With its patented line of officially licensed sports collectibles, Signables brings player collectibles to life through facsimile signatures, and in-depth bios and statistics. Signables currently holds licensing agreements with several European soccer clubs including Chelsea F.C., Liverpool F.C., Arsenal F.C., Manchester City F.C., Tottenham Hotspur, Club America, PUMAs and Paris Saint Germain. Co-founder, author and philanthropist Kuda Biza, who arrived in the U.S. from Zimbabwe with only $40 in his pocket, is on a mission to build profitable companies to help solve societal issues. Co-founder and distinguished fashion designer Lauren Cecchi brings the brand vision to life as creative director.
About NFLPA Driven
The NFLPA developed the accelerator with input from NFL athlete entrepreneurs, industry specialists and leadership from NFL Players Inc. – one of the world’s largest and most influential licensors, managing over 80 licensees who generated $2.17 billion in player-product sales last year. But the program is not just committed to success for diverse entrepreneurs within professional football. This initiative also invests in the companies and their consumer-focused products, delivering access to world-class athletes for mentorship, intellectual property and marketing while also building a framework for enduring growth and success across the licensing ecosystem. A cross-disciplinary team from licensing, consumer products, sponsorship, marketing, technology and professional sports form the Driven Advisory Board. This group will provide strategic input on company growth and product development.
Board members include:
- Kimberly Alula (VP, Global Head of Inclusion & Innovation, Fanatics,)
- Melissa Bradley (Founder, 1863 Ventures)
- Maura Regan (President, Licensing International)
- Brennan Scarlett (NFL linebacker and entrepreneur)
- Malaika Underwood (SVP Licensing, OneTeam Partners)
About the NFLPA
The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through the 2030 season. For more information, please visit www.nflpa.com.
About NFL Players Inc.
NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFLPA, connects businesses to the power of NFL players. NFL Players Inc. creates customized business solutions for partners, through licensing, marketing strategy and player activations. For more information, please visit .