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Tom Brady, Michael Strahan raise VC funding

The NFL icons have become the latest in a growing line of athletes to become digital entrepreneurs.

NFL icons Tom Brady and Michael Strahan launched a new sports media startup earlier this year, becoming the latest in a line of athletes to launch second careers as digital entrepreneurs. Called Religion of Sports Media, the new company has now collected $3 million in venture backing, per an SEC filing.

CourtsideVC and Advancit Capital have co-led the round, according to the Boston Business Journal. Courtside invests primarily in sports media companies, while Advancit—which was co-founded by CBS executive Shari Redstone—pursues a broader media mandate.

Joining Brady and Strahan as a third co-founder is Gotham Chopra, a director and producer and the son of Deepak Chopra. Brady, Chopra and Strahan are all executive producers of an existing documentary series called “Religion of Sports” that explores the significance of sports around the world. While the startup’s website is a bit opaque, it appears the Religion of Sports company will work to tell similar visual stories related to the spiritual and inspirational nature of sports. Brady and Chopra also recently worked together on “Tom vs Time,” a six-episode web series examining Brady’s training regimen and home life that could perhaps be seen as another prelude of what’s to come at their new company.

The venture isn’t Brady’s first entry into business. He’s also the namesake of TB12, a wellness brand that encompasses nutrition advice, fitness centers, workout gear and a recently published book, among other products. Strahan, meanwhile, has spent the 10-plus years since his retirement taking over TV: He’s a host of “Good Morning America” and “The $100,000 Pyramid” and is an NFL analyst on Fox. Strahan is also the co-founder of SMAC Entertainment, a talent management and production company.

A handful of other sports stars have recently branched into sports media, and several more have pursued second careers in venture capital. Most famously, perhaps, Kobe Bryant won an Academy Award last month for a short film called “Dear Basketball” and now runs a production company. In 2014, Derek Jeter founded The Players Tribune, a media company that serves as a direct mouthpiece for content written by athletes.

It’s been nearly 18 months since David Ortiz led a group of former professional baseball players in the launch of Dugout Ventures, a firm focused on investing in companies with some relation to baseball. That announcement came just a few months after Bryant revealed his own $100 million VC fund, called Bryant Stibel.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Maize & Blue Nation.

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    Written by Kevin Dowd

    Kevin Dowd wrote The Weekend Pitch newsletter for PitchBook, covering startups, buyouts and the rest of the private market.

    A native of the Pacific Northwest, he’s an alumnus of the University of Washington with a degree in creative writing and journalism. He enjoys books and basketball and, most especially, books about basketball. He feels uncomfortable writing about himself in the third person.

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