Taylor Rapp #24 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up prior to a team scrimmage at SoFi Stadium on August 29, 2020 in Inglewood, California.
Sean M. Haffey | Getty Images
Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp is joining the non-fungible token boom and donating proceeds to help Asian communities struck by recent violence.
Rapp will launch six digital collections on Thursday and auction 90 total NFTs, including one that includes tickets to a National Football League game and a meet and greet with players. The NFTs will appear on the OpenSea marketplace, where other athletes like Rob Gronkowski have collections.
In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Rapp, who is Asian American, said he would donate a percentage of the funds to the #StopAsianHate GoFundMe campaign to support the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community. The page has raised over $4 million to combat recent hate crimes.
“I am Asian American, and this community means a lot to me,” Rapp said. “I wanted to help my people, and what better way to raise money right now to donate than through creating an NFT collection and using my platform.”
Rapp joins a growing group of Asian American athletes who are supporting their community following a recent series of attacks, including a mass shooting in Georgia. Rapp said he’s seen violence against Asian American groups increase since the pandemic started early last year.
“I felt like it was a responsibility for me to go out there and do what I can using my platform and my name to try to help out my community and bring more awareness to what is going on right now,” he said.
Rapp will determine what percentage of the funds to donate after the auction, which ends Sunday. He anticipates a “large chunk” will go to the fund. Rapp said the collection celebrates his Asian heritage and includes The Ox zodiac sign, representing the 2021 Chinese calendar. That’s why he named the set: Taylor Rapp-Year of the Ox NFT Collection.
Investors and collectors have been pouring money into NFTs this year as part of a broader surge of interest in crypto-related assets. In sports, the mania started with the National Basketball Association’s partnership with Dapper Laps to create digital artwork. Dapper said on Tuesday it raised over $300 million, and the company is now valued at $2.6 billion, according to USA Today.
The collectibles sit on blockchain technology, a digital ledger that creates a unique ID for every asset. Rapp’s collection will be connected to the Ethereum blockchain.
Along with Gronkowski’s collection, which sold for over $1 million, Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes also launched an NFT set. Rapp called NFTs a “cool and innovative way to connect with fans.”
“I believe the NFTs are here to stay, and they will eventually take over sports trading cards,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised in the next three to four years if every player had their own NFT collection.”
Rapp admitted he’s still learning the cryptocurrency space and owns some bitcoin. He’s also getting more into real estate after purchasing his first home in Washington.
Rapp is coming off an injury-plagued 2020 campaign with the Rams. After playing in 15 games his rookie year and recording 100 combined tackles, Rapp appeared in nine games this past season, recording 44 tackles and one interception.
He said “durability” will be essential for 2021 and “just making sure I stay as healthy as possible because you’re not going to get on the football field if you’re hurt.”
Rapp, a 2019 second-round pick, will make approximately $919,000 for the 2021 season if he remains on the Rams’ roster.