The NFL Players Association has reached an exclusive agreement to deliver continuous biometric monitors to its members, the next step in an escalating marketplace for wearable technology. The deal with WHOOP, a company that also provides CBMs to Major League Baseball players, was announced Monday morning.
Distribution to interested NFL players began earlier this offseason and will accelerate this week in Philadelphia, site of the 2017 draft. The wrist-worn device, known as the WHOOP Strap 2.0, will transmit physiological data on sleep and recovery, among other data sets. The information is different from what is generated by the NFL-owned chips worn in games and practices, which largely measure location and exertion.
The agreement with WHOOP also gives players the right to sell their data as the market intensifies for elite athletic training methods.
"A lot of people still view data and approach it as something to be feared," said Ahmad Nasser, the president of NFL Players Inc., the NFLPA's licensing and marketing subsidiary. "Our thought is that this data is absolutely useful to our players, from helping them recover from injuries to making sure they are healthy in their post-career lives. We want that for them, and also the commercialization and monetization standpoint as well."
Will Ahmed, the founder and CEO of WHOOP, said the industry is seeing a "new era" of interest in physiological data of elite players, both from the athletes themselves and the exercise community. The CBM device targeted for NFL players will use five sensors to take readings 100 times per second, Ahmed said, providing "continuous data, 24-7." It provides a nightly sleep goal based on the body's current condition, and according to Ahmed, has resulted in an average of 41 minutes of additional sleep per night from previous users.
"The NFL's current products are very focused on exercise or games," Ahmed said, "whereas we believe there is a whole story around the other 20 hours of the day and how an athlete optimizes for recovery and performance. That's a story that the public would also take great interest. How do the best athletes treat their bodies to recover optimally from a grueling sport? That's a story that has never been told before about professional athletes."