- Former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch has partnered with online retailer Fanatics to operate e-commerce for his Beast Mode site.
- The multiyear agreement marks the first time the online retailer will run an athlete's personal brand line.
- Lynch also said he would like to play in the NFL this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Marshawn Lynch is ready to take his apparel company global.
The former National Football League running back has entered an exclusive partnership with online retailer Fanatics in an e-commerce deal that will allow the company to operate Lynch's Beast Mode retail website.
Financial terms of the multiyear agreement were not made available, but the deal will mimic a typical revenue-sharing model structured for other Fanatics e-commerce partnerships, the company told CNBC.
The agreement is the first of its kind for Fanatics, as the firm usually strikes e-commerce deals with sports leagues and clubs, not individual athletes. Jack Boyle, Fanatics' global co-president of its direct-to-consumer business, called the agreement with Lynch "transformative in nature, and it's transformative for both of us."
"As we continue to evolve our business, we saw this as an opportunity to be the first time we would power a branded e-commerce site for an individual athlete, celebrity or influencer," Boyle told CNBC.
"He's done an incredible job throughout his career while playing, also building his brand," Boyle added. "We saw the opportunity to help him scale his business and reach a significantly wider range of fans across the entire globe."
Lynch started the Beast Mode brand in 2014 and experienced "record-setting sales" during the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl XLIX appearance in Phoenix in 2015, according to Fanatics. In an interview with CNBC, Lynch said the partnership with Fanatics would help expand Beast Mode beyond North America.
"They are one of the biggest companies out there, and just their reach of being able to touch people all over the world — it's a good power move for me," Lynch told CNBC. He added that Beast Mode isn't limited to sportswear. Instead, he considers it a lifestyle brand with deep meaning connected to his hometown.
"Every time I hear Beast Mode, I hear a representation of Oakland, California, and where I grew up — North Oakland, East Oakland and West Oakland," Lynch said.
"The whole truth behind Oakland is what I feel Beast Mode represents — tough, being about your business, staying on your grind, and accomplishing [things] that many people don't believe you can."
The deal with Lynch helps Fanatics strengthen its sports licensing portfolio. The company, which operates over 250 e-commerce partners including the National Football League, PGA Tour and NASCAR, also recently extended its partnership with Nike.
Lynch, 34, last played for the Seahawks in the 2019 season after spending his previous two years with the then-Oakland Raiders. Asked if he's officially retired from the NFL, Lynch said: "Until further notice."
Boyle said the company would collaborate with Lynch on creative rollouts to build "anticipation for new products" if the NFL is no longer in Lynch's future. Boyle said Fanatics will use what it learns from Beast Mode to build additional models for operating personal brand sites for athletes.
"This will certainly pave the way for future opportunities," Boyle said.
Lynch's former colleagues in the NFL are still wrapping up negotiations on return-to-play protocols due to Covid-19. Teams are scheduled to hold training camps this week but are still negotiating with players on pay and safety rules for the season.
Asked what advice he would give younger players about returning in this current environment, Lynch said "health first" before advising players to "make sure you're making the right decision for you and you're not letting nobody else influence your decision."
He factored in his love for the sport before admitting he would risk playing this season despite the pandemic.
"That has nothing to do with the [money], the fame. Nothing besides the fact that I love to do this," Lynch said. "If they told me that this was the last time that I could play football, I'm most definitely going to take that opportunity going through that, and I'm going to guarantee I put on a show during that process."
Before Lynch's final game with the Seahawks in January, he made headlines for offering financial advice using "chicken" as a substitute word for money.
"I can tell you to go and save your money and invest your money but a lot of the younger kids right now, they understand what counting your chicken and chasing chicken means," Lynch said. "So, when I'm telling you to take care of your chicken, you know what I mean."