By Ray Schulte, Schulte Sports Marketing & Public Relations
Approximately 35,000 sports fans and collectors converged on the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention, held at the Baltimore Convention Center Aug. 1-5.
I recently caught up with Matte at Keepr's offices to discuss the company's official product launch this November and plans for the future.
Ray Schulte: You're involved with Keepr, a company that is introducing a new NFL-licensed collectible product. Give us a little background on the concept and what we can expect.
Tom Matte: The Keepr enables us to showcase the careers of NFL legends and how they changed the game. The vintage footage from the vaults of NFL Films highlights each player's career in ways that haven't been seen in decades, if ever before. And of particular interest, one which strikes true to my heart, is proceeds from sales of the Keepr are going to benefit non-profit organizations providing medical and financial assistance to retired players.
RS: Securing an NFL license is difficult. How did you accomplish it, especially because the product uses NFL player video highlights?
TM: Years of persistence, to put it lightly. But we were eventually able to present the concept directly to commissioner [Roger] Goodell, who endorsed the product for the very purpose we had intended: to benefit all retired NFL players. The Keepr will be a source of revenue for a group of guys who desperately need it, and the commissioner's support helped pave the way for us.
RS: How important was it to secure the rights to Johnny Unitas?
TM: In the city of Baltimore, there is no better player to represent this town, and being a player who also played his whole career with Johnny, it was a must in my eyes. We're a Baltimore company, and all admittedly huge Johnny Unitas fans. John Jr. also recognized the quality and impact of our product and felt it was a terrific way to help perpetuate his dad's legacy.
RS: Who else can we expect Keepr to release in November?
TM: We really have a great Class of 2012 Keeprs. Obviously here in Baltimore, with Johnny Unitas and the ability to introduce Johnny as a Baltimore Colt doesn't get much better. But in each city, we really have the best of the best: Roger Staubach, Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Franco Harris, Joe Montana, Sonny Jurgensen, Phil Simms, Howie Long and Deion Sanders. All Hall of Famers except one, but certainly all game changers.
RS: Will the player cards be limited in production? Will players sign any of their cards?
TM: There are three types of Keeprs being released over the next few months. Our standard-edition Keepr is available now at keeprmedia.com. This will be a limited-production release. Then, coming in early 2013, we will be releasing an auction Web site for our limited-edition collector series. This consists of 1,000 serialized and 200 signed and serialized Keeprs. Each player's signature will be authentic, and in Johnny Unitas' and Walter Payton's case, they will be printed with an official trademark signature.
RS: How will Keepr become involved with your ongoing efforts to support retired players, especially those in need?
TM: With public/consumer support for the Keepr, we can meet our two-year goal of raising $1 million for non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for retired NFL players in need. Over time, I see it as a driver of our support efforts and look forward to coming up with new ways to use the Keepr throughout the NFL.
RS: Where can fans and collectors purchase the Keepr?
TM: The Keepr can be purchased on our Web site, at keeprmedia.com. There's a video on the site that shows you how the Keepr works and what you can expect to see for each of the first 10 players making up the Keepr Class of 2012. It's really just a plug-and-play product that you won't want to stop watching once you start. It's truly riveting history.
Follow Ray @ twitter.com/SchulteSports and/or e-mail him at Ray@SchulteSports.com.
Issue 179: November 2012