NFLPA Names Upland, Rock ‘Em Socks and FOCO as Recipients of 2022 NFLPA Licensee of the Year Awards




LAS VEGAS – Emerging digital economy and gaming ecosystem Upland, clothing brand Rock ‘Em Socks, and FOCO, a leading manufacturer of officially licensed sports and entertainment merchandise, have been named the 2022 NFL Players Association Licensees of the Year. The NFLPA launched the annual awards in 2015 to honor NFLPA licensees that demonstrated the most successful and creative use of NFL player group licensing rights in any given year.

Best Breakout Product: Upland, which joined as an NFLPA licensee in September 2021, is an NFT-based digital game that sits on top of the real world, allowing fans to buy, sell and trade virtual properties mapped to actual physical addresses. NFL players are the first athletes to be minted into interactive NFTs (Upland Legits) on Upland’s blockchain, which incorporate 3D designs. Upland’s first Legits sold out within hours and are proving to be a success with Uplanders.

Best Use of Group Player Rights: Over the NFLPA’s 2022 fiscal year, Rock ‘Em Socks included 300+ NFL players, spanning every position, into their sock collection with 1,000+ individual SKUs associated with unique NFL players. The company, an official NFLPA licensee since 2020, launched an activation during the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft to make sure socks for each newly drafted first round pick were available to fans immediately.

Best Player Activations: With a product line that includes apparel, accessories, toys, collectibles, novelty items, and more, FOCO enlisted the help of twelve (12) offensive, defensive and special teams players during the final months of 2021 to drive holiday shoppers to FOCO’s products online. A longstanding licensee, FOCO also collaborated with six (6) other players to develop custom bobbleheads, which were promoted on their social media channels.

“We have some truly unique and exciting licensing partners in our portfolio, and we think it is important to highlight those products, marketing activities and overall results that exceeded expectations. This year’s winners, Upland, Rock ‘Em Socks and FOCO stood out and represented some of the most creative and inclusive ways to leverage NFL players and the group rights that we saw last season,” said Terése Whitehead, VP, Consumer Products & Strategy, NFL Players Inc.

A panel of NFLPA licensing executives evaluated licensees on several criteria: number of unique players featured within the licensees’ product lines; marketing and promotional activations that featured players throughout the year; creativity and innovation in product development; licensees’ positive development of players’ rights; and the range of distribution and growth in annual financial performance.

The NFLPA is one of the largest and most influential licensors in the world, representing exclusive group licensing rights of 2,000+ active NFL players. The global licensing program includes 80+ NFLPA licensees. Licensed product across hardline, apparel, digital, and unconventional categories include, among many others, adult and youth game jerseys, T-shirts, hoodies, bobbleheads, plush toys, socks, face coverings, headbands, figurines, wall decals, backpacks, pennants, photos, drinkware, pet products and more. The expansive program offers licensees unique personalities to incorporate into product lines, marketing activations and appearances. Licensees leverage exclusive group player rights – including names, images, likenesses, uniform numbers, signatures, photographs, original art, voices, biographical data and other intellectual property – to create products with appeal across apparel, hardlines and digital categories.

NFLPA licensees generated record retail sales this past season with $2.17 billion, the eighth consecutive year of increases.