After co-leading the league in total tackles in his sophomore season, linebacker Blake Martinez delivered three straight seasons with more tackles than he totaled in that second year of his career. The tackling machine came to a screeching halt in 2021, though, when a torn ACL sidelined him for the rest of the season. He then made the surprise decision to retire midseason the following year. The reason for that retirement may have seemed questionable to some, but according to a deep dive by The Athletic’s Zak Keefer, it seems to be paying off.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Martinez got interested in an old childhood hobby of his: Pokémon cards. He collected as a child, and after stumbling upon some articles detailing the worth of well-kept cards, he implored about his old collection, discovering that his parents had given them away. Still, knowing that it was a thing he was both knowledgeable and passionate about, Martinez got back in the game.
In his first foray into the buying of cards in search of rarities to resell, Martinez netted $108K in profit from a purchase load of approximately $40K. The profit comes from a live stream opening of purchased cards that allows other collectors to see potential rarities they’d like to add to their collection. Soon after his first stream, Martinez announced the conclusion of his NFL career, despite leading the Raiders in tackles in his final professional game.
Martinez’s money-making hobby turned into his own company, Blake’s Breaks (a reference to box breaks, the act of opening new packs of cards). He has since hired about 20 full-time staffers, and his company streams an average of 16 hours a day, with Martinez still hosting a stream two or three times a week. In the first year of its existence, Blake’s Breaks has reportedly brought in over $11.5MM of revenues.
Can a football player make that much in a single year alone? A good one can, and Martinez himself had a three-year, $30.75MM contract at one point in his career. But Martinez found a way to turn something he loved into a business that brings in multiple millions of dollars of revenue without putting his body on the line. At a time with his ailing body was starting to cost him money in the NFL, it’s a best-case scenario for Martinez.