The NFLPA marketing and licensing business adds three leaders from sports, entertainment and venture capital to its influential Board




WASHINGTON D.C., February 10, 2023 – NFL Players Inc., the for-profit marketing and licensing business of the NFL Players Association, welcomes three prominent leaders from entertainment, sports and venture capital – former Vice President of Animation at Netflix Bruce Daitch, WISE National Board Chair and President Kathleen Francis, and Catapult Ventures Co-founder Rouz Jazayeri – to its Board of Directors.

“Our newest Board members reflect a wealth of talent, energy and passion across disciplines and industries” said Steve Scebelo, President, NFL Players Inc. “We are excited to have them in our corner as we look to help steward the business of NFL Players Inc. through promoting cross-industry relationships, further our commitment to diversity and inclusion in marketing and licensing and identify incremental revenue opportunities on behalf of the players.”

New Members of the Board of Directors

Kathleen Francis, an influential voice in sports business, spent more than 30 years leading the development and implementation of high-impact sports marketing programs. Over her career, she has created and executed unique, multi-faceted sports marketing strategies at the grassroots level, for not-for-profit as well as major corporations. As Founder and President of Oasis Sports Ventures, LLC, Ms. Francis leverages her vast experience to support the growth and expansion of youth service organizations in the tennis industry. In her role as National Chair and President of Women In Sports and Events (WISE), she spearheads the advancement accelerator which ensures that women hold prime positions in sports business. She also serves as vice president of the United States Tennis Association Board and is on the Advisory Board of the Women’s Sports Network.

Bruce Daitch served as vice president of animation at Netflix over the last three years. As head of the world's largest animation studio, Mr. Daitch led global production strategy and operations. He spent more than 20 years at DreamWorks Animation/SKG, serving as both Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. His tenure at DreamWorks spanned the early startup phase through its growth into a multi-billion-dollar entertainment juggernaut. His leadership drove a number of firsts, including the company’s IPO, a television production and distribution enterprise, a joint venture in China, a live theatrical entertainment division, and the company’s ultimate sale to Comcast/NBCU. Earlier in his career, Mr. Daitch held positions in business development at Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, as a financial analyst with CBS Television, and as a trader for Merrill Lynch.

Rouz Jazayeri has spent his career in Silicon Valley working across different roles in venture capital, engineering, and business development. In 2018, Mr. Jazayeri co-founded Catapult Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm that specializes in deep-tech investments across AI, Automation, and Robotics. Now with close to $200M under management, Catapult's investments include Oculii (acquired by Ambarella), XNOR.AI (acquired by Apple), Left Hand Robotics (acquired by Toro), Advanced Farm (farming robotics) and Anello Photonics (navigation sensors). Prior to Catapult, he worked at Kleiner Perkins with an elevated role on early stage Hard-Tech investing while supporting companies like Quantumscape (IPO: QS), Ring (acquired by Amazon), LuxVue (acquired by Apple), MyFitnessPal (acquired by Under Armour), iControl (acquired by Comcast and, DJI, and Ambiq Micro. Earlier in his career, Mr. Jazayeri worked at Intel and held roles in engineering, business development, and research. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Purdue, with highest distinction.

Current Board Members

The three incoming members join a board comprised of diverse leaders across sports, business, labor and licensing. The current board consists of:

  • Kathy Ireland – Supermodel-turned-super mogul has leveraged her brand value and influence in branding and fashion to help NFL players grow their revenue objectives through marketing and licensing.
  • Jenny Abramson – A former tech chief executive officer and the founder and managing partner of Rethink Impact, a venture capital firm investing in female entrepreneurs using technology.
  • And internal NFLPA representation by DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA Executive Director; Teri Smith, NFLPA Chief Operating Officer; Ira Fishman, Managing Director, NFLPA; Steve Scebelo, President, NFL Players Inc.; and Sean Sansiveri, General Counsel & Head of Business Affairs, NFL Players Inc.

Outgoing Members of the Board

  • Richard Berthelsen has served on the board since its creation 12 years ago. As past General Counsel for the NFLPA, he has provided consistent and thoughtful guidance and been committed to positioning NFL Players Inc. and the NFLPA members for long-term success.
  • Stephen Saxon has been observer since its formation. As Principal at Groom Law Group in Washington D.C., he has supplied the board with expert counsel related to labor and legislative matters.

“NFL Players Inc. thanks Richard and Steve for their dedication to helping the business grow to its current stage and appreciates all they have done on behalf of the NFLPA’s player membership and its group licensing business,” remarked Scebelo.