Would You Invest In Richard Sherman?


After a hard fought NFC Championship game, Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman, used his postgame interview to let viewers know that he deserved recognition.[1]   Consequently, sports commentators had a field day breaking down every Sherman action in effort to determine the “motivation” for his postgame rant.[2] Some suggested that Sherman has been an underappreciated player throughout his career and he just wanted the recognition he felt he rightly deserved.[3] Well, thanks to Fantex Brokerage Services, Sherman and other under-appreciated players can put their money where their mouth is![4]


Fantex Brokerage Services developed a plan to partner with professional athletes in order to set up Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).[5] The company initiated deals with Arian Foster and Vernon Davis where each player would have been offered upfront payments in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings.[6] Unfortunately, both Foster and Davis sustained injuries and Fantex suspended the launch of their IPOs.[7]


Only time will tell whether or not Fantex will actually be successful, but one legal hurdle they may first have to confront is whether or not their business constitutes illegal gambling under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection law.[8] According to this law, it is unlawful in particular jurisdictions to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license or authorize by law or compact a lottery, sweepstakes or other betting, gambling or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games.”[9]


On its face, Fantex’s business seems to fall under the sport gambling prohibition, making it illegal. Essentially, Fantex investors would be “wagering” their investment based on the athlete’s future earnings, which are arguably directly tied to their in-game performance.[10] Conversely, one may argue that Fantex also takes into account endorsements and the like which are often based on a combination of a player’s personality, off-season activities, and their on-field play.[11] This argument, however, will likely crumble under the heavy burden of trying to separate an athlete’s performance from their earnings.  


Fantex may find support in regulations on internet gambling. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 declare some activities such as securities and exchange commodities exempt from its prohibition on internet gambling.[12] Since Fantex’s business will resemble a stock exchange more than the type of online “casino” gambling sites that the act was traditionally trying to target, one can argue that Fantex may narrowly avoid falling within the gambling prohibitions.


Even if Fantex jumps the legal hurdles, they still need to garner interest. This is where players like Sherman come in. If a player really feels under-appreciated, Fantex can offer them a way to prove themselves on a national stage.


Bottom-line: If players like Richard Sherman are so worried about people recognizing their talent as NFL players, why don’t they give people a chance to invest in their brand and then prove to them that their investment was worth it?


[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeromeyoung/2014/01/20/5-reasons-we-cant-blame-richard-sherman-for-talkin-a-little-trash/

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/want-a-piece-of-a-star-athlete-now-you-really-can-buy-one/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

[5] Id.

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2013/12/04/good-news-for-investors-fantex-unplugged-by-injuries-to-foster-and-davis/

[7] Id.

[8] http://ncjolt.org/in-offering-stock-in-professional-athletes-fantex-has-legal-hurdles-to-clear/

[9] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/3702

[10] http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/want-a-piece-of-a-star-athlete-now-you-really-can-buy-one/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

[11] Id.

[12] http://www.firstamendment.com/site-articles/UIEGA/