July ushered in a new era for varsity athletics when the NCAA approved new policies that allow varsity athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) in accordance with state policies. For Rob Blair, a Houston-area resident and longtime Texas Longhorns supporter, that day marked the conception of a NIL deal involving the Texas football program that he and his co-hosts hope to deliver. an overview of what could happen in various programs across the country.

Horns with Heart, a new name, image and likeness (NIL) initiative, was announced Monday with plans to sponsor every fellow offensive lineman in Texas with annual funding of $ 50,000 for the use of their name, image and likeness to raise awareness for worthy causes that impact on their local communities. The initiative, dubbed “The Pancake Factory”, was announced in a press release from the non-profit organization 501c3 and aims “to to be the first of its kind to support a group of footballers to participate in charitable endeavors that impact both the University of Texas as well as the community at large. “

For Blair, director of sales at Streamline Shipping Solutions and one of the co-organizers of Horns with Heart, finding a way to bring greater good to the community as a whole through the initiative – something he lacked. in the early NIL agreements – was paramount. Blair previously helped co-host “Burnt Ends,” a NIL initiative through Surly Horns that lines the pockets of tight ends in Texas, but The Pancake Factory takes a different approach while offering a much higher payout.

“One of the biggest issues I’ve seen in terms of NIL is really that there hasn’t been any positive contribution from NIL based on who these kids are and what they’re doing,” said Blair in an interview with 247Sports. “(The players) are mini-celebrities in one form or another, especially in Austin where there’s only the pro MLS team. The Texas Longhorns are your professional sports team. The only deals we have in somehow NIL’s views are of a kid selling a t-shirt or an ad-type offer.

“Even with Burnt Ends, we’ve tried to make absolutely as positive a contribution as possible. But kids still have to podcast or post on a bulletin board. There hasn’t been any real positive contribution to the community, and so on. t is our way of doing it by empowering them to give back to their community using their celebrity status for lack of a better term.

The initiative has a current cap of $ 800,000, which means 16 offensive linemen could be covered when it goes into effect in August 2022. Although Longhorns offensive linemen will have the ultimate power to spend their money. slice of the pie as they see fit, players will make appearances. at various charity events in the Austin area as part of their obligations. Blair says the hope is that these appearances will eventually extend to each player’s hometowns as well.

“We will be providing money to charities as well as offensive line appearances,” Blair said. “Like, we’re doing a Habitat for Humanity. We’ll have the whole offensive line there building a house. She’ll go to a soup kitchen, do a turkey tour, that sort of thing. All of their appearances. will be 100% charities that we partner with, especially those local to Austin and those that are local to them as well.

“Everyone is located in Austin which makes it easy and convenient. But they also have to come home at some point because that’s what they care about.”

This initiative also offers the Texas offensive line the opportunity to further increase its notoriety. This was a direct factor in choosing Horns with Heart from the offensive line to be part of the initiative, according to Blair, who says the group is hoping to make deals with programs other than football – Blair says sports Females in Texas are the next priority – down the line.

“Everyone describes (NIL) as the big and glamorous” oh fantastic, these guys go out and get paid. “Blair said.” In reality, what we found from the offensive line was that they were making peanuts in terms of NIL money last year and putting their bodies in danger. This is the most underrated and stoned group of positions you will find … These are the ugly fat ones. They don’t get any money.

“Sure, they get a great education, but it could end in the blink of an eye. It could end in a missed block, their foot gets stuck in the grass, and now their careers and futures are over, and they have no way of knowing what comes next for me. When the football is over, what comes next for me? If we can just make a positive contribution to that, that is what we are looking for. This is exactly what the world needs. “

While some may scoff at the lucrative amount handed out to each lineman – recruiting implications and other concerns have been raised by critics – Blair and his co-hosts say creating a competitive advantage for the Longhorns is everything except their goal. On the contrary, the hope is that Horns with Heart will serve as a model for programs to follow from coast to coast to create win-win situations for players and supporters.

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“Everyone gets mad,” Blair said. “It’s ‘Texas is paying all these guys NIL money and Alabama is going to follow suit.’ That’s good. It’s great. That’s exactly what has to happen in the world. These 18 and 19 year olds put their bodies at risk every Saturday. Not just on Saturday, but in training. time spent in being a student athlete is astronomical. Not just education – which is a bit of the forgotten aspect – but practice time, training time, training, good nutrition. they do, they don’t have time for extra work. This should be their extra work.

“My dream is for all universities to pay their children as much as they can and for their donor base to give back to something they are having fun with.”

Horns247 contributed to this report.

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