Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster isn’t the first pro athlete to invest in gaming. But he’s looking to do something different.
Smith-Schuster is launching Team Diverge, an athlete-led gaming entertainment and lifestyle company. While other athletes have joined organizations as ambassadors or investors, the NFL star wanted to take a “different path” into the gaming scene.
“In creating my own organization instead of joining one of the big established ones, I know I chose a different path than most in my position would do,” Smith-Schuster said. “I’m not just trying to be a popular figure in gaming for myself. I’m trying to build a special organization that is a platform for others.”
TD, an apt abbreviation considering it also stands for touchdown, wants to bring together the worlds of gaming, culture, and sports. The company’s co-founder and COO, Karan Gill, told Dot Esports that TD wants to stand out with a mix of gaming and pro athlete headliners.
“The headliners for [other] orgs are all gamers first, they are all elite gamers,” Gill said. “We want those other NFL guys and Juju to be the headliners of this org who are known for more than just gaming. We want guys who are as passionate about gaming as they are their own personal endeavors.”
The company has signed six content creators to serve as the core of the team. There are also several athletes involved who will be announced at a later date. TD will set its sights on musicians and celebrities to expand its team, too. Smith-Schuster also wants to “give a platform to people who just need an opportunity to be seen,” according to Gill.
Smith-Schuster is an avid gamer, having briefly moved into the FaZe Clan house in 2018 and collaborated with HyperX to create the limited Cloud MIX headset, Juju edition. And the NFL pro participated in Twitch star Ninja’s record-breaking stream in 2018, along with rappers Drake and Travis Scott, where over 600,000 viewers tuned in.
Gill cited that stream as “one of the biggest turning points in gaming” because it “touches everybody.”
“It made everyone feel like they’re similar to Drake because they play Fortnite like Drake does,” Gill said. “That’s something that we want to replicate here with TD, give a lot of these athletes who don’t have that platform to game or be known as gamers, to start working with TD to express that passion they have and to grow authentically in the space.”