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Rob Gronkowski capitalizes on NBA Top Shot craze, launches collection of exclusive NFT cards

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If you had Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski as the first NFL player to get in on the NBA Top Shot craze, collect your winnings now. Gronkowski is dipping his toe into the NFT waters with an exclusive collection of trading cards.

The cards — which were designed by Black Madre — feature hand-drawn art of Gronkowski during his four Super Bowl appearances. There will be 87 of each of those cards available, a nod to Gronkowski's number. There's a special fifth card that features artwork of Gronkowski from all five games. Only one of those cards will be available for purchase on OpenSea, a digital marketplace for crypto collectibles.

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The cards will go up for auction Mar. 11 at 7 p.m. ET. Fans will be able to bid on the cards for 48 hours. You must bid using Ethereum, however, which is a blockchain platform used for Ether cryptocurrency. Once the auction completes, the highest bidders will receive their NFTs in their crypto wallet.

What in the world are NFTs?

NFT stands for non-fungible token, but that probably doesn't help. Thankfully, Mitchell Clark of The Verge wrote a helpful explainer on NFTs if you aren't familiar with terms like bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain.

In short, NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital trading cards. These are not physical products. You won't be able to hold one of these cards in your hand.

You might wonder whether there's a market for a collectible you can't physically own. Well, the answer is yes. Someone paid $20,000 for an NFT video clip of Logan Paul. An NFT digital cat sold for $172,000. You may also wonder why someone would pay $20,000 for a video clip you could watch on the Internet for free. That part isn't as clear. NFTs are supposed to be unique, but can that really be the case with a publicly-available video clip?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL football tight end Rob Gronkowski waves during a celebration of their Super Bowl 55 victory.
Rob Gronkowski has always been an innovator. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack)

The NBA has already embraced NFTs

You might be reading this and wondering why you should care? None of this impacts you. That's fair. Though, if you are a sports fan, you'll probably have to get used to hearing about NFTs and cryptocurrencies. The NBA launched NBA Top Shot, which is essentially the same thing as Gronkowski's trading cards, but with highlights. Top Shot calls those highlights "moments." In February, Top Shot reportedly brought in $200 million in sales.

If there's money to be made, you know every other professional sports league is listening. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and the NFL are paying attention to NBA Top Shot, leading some to wonder whether the NFL could consider something similar.

Gronkowski struck before the NFL got something together. If Gronkowski's foray into NFTs proves lucrative, it's hard not to see the NFL — and other sports leagues — following in the NBA's footsteps.

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