#002: Pressure Makes Diamonds ♦️

‘Pass It On’ is a phrase uttered and preached by many, but lived and practiced by few. For superstar Deshaun Watson, it is not as much words-to-live-by, as the inverse: a way to encapsulate the life you live, and live with purpose. Thus, the title of his book. 

We partnered with visual artist King Saladeen and Deshaun to promote this message and bring the book - and the hobby - to life in new and exciting ways as we introduced our brand to the world and opened up shop in downtown Manhattan.

Deshaun opens up about the seven core values that have guided him on his own journey and how we can all strive to “Be Legendary” in everything we do. 

We sought cogent outside-the-box solutions to maximize cultural relevance and quality programming that aligned with the book’s pillars and ran parallel to the sports card and memorabilia space.

Through artistic adaptations and creative approach, we were able to leverage the objectively incredible skill-set of King Saladeen to present a truly unique and multi-faceted offering - highlighted by a limited artist edition of Pass It On: Work Hard, Serve Others... Repeat, hand-numbered to 50; boasting dual-autographs from the two legends with the Bleecker Trading Seal of Authenticity.

Goldin Auctions, in partnership with Bleecker Trading, auctioned off Deshaun Watson’s game-worn, autographed cleats - vividly and imaginatively designed by King Saladeen - for NFL’s #MyCauseMyCleats Week 13 Initiative. 

Lot #2171 in Ken Goldin’s holiday auction included a custom “Saladeenified” pair of headphones to match the cleats, also worn on game-day by the Texans’ franchise QB.  

The offering was sponsored by Beats Music and all proceeds went to the Deshaun Watson Foundation - dedicated to serving, protecting, and educating underserved youth in impoverished communities. 

Speaking of generosity, we would be remiss not to mention an epic Thanksgiving performance by Deshaun Watson as the antecedent to the world debut of Collection #001. Deshaun sported our flagship Bleecker Trading Hat and our first collaborative tee during his post-game interview, which SportsCenter and NFL Network subsequently picked up. 

Was it putting the team on his back with a masterful 320 yard/4 TD performance or the outfit? Tough to say really… but we were thrilled either way.

Our second collaborative piece of apparel - a crisp Clemson Edition hoodie paid homage to the most legendary college football player of all time. 

King Saladeen’s signature “JP The Money Bear” is a central element in all the apparel collaborations we released with Deshaun, and plays a role in everything Saladeen does. “JP'' was named and created as an on-going tribute to a dear friend and mentor to the Philadelphia artist, who credits his whole art career to the wisdom and encouragement of his best friend before he passed - and what he stood for in life. He shared this story with DJ Skee in depth and much more in his Project 2020 Interview for Topps Company, which was broadcast live from Bleecker HQ and included a free Ben Baller Topps Chrome Black box-break. 

Watson also iterated the importance of principles and family in the premiere episode of “Card Clout” with DJ Skee, a new show from Skee Sports and Whistle.  

jjFrom Deshaun’s early days in Gainesville, Georgia, where he supported his mother through cancer, to his years at Clemson University—where he graduated in three years while being nominated for the Heisman twice—to his first feseasons in the NFL, Deshaun has distinguished himself as a leader by putting others first. 

 

From Deshaun’s early days in Gainesville, Georgia, where he supported his mother through cancer, to his years at Clemson University—where he graduated in three years while being nominated for the Heisman twice—to his first few seasons in the NFL, Deshaun has distinguished himself as a leader by putting others first. 

We produced a conversation oriented around business and decision-making with Deshaun and his QB coach Quincy Avery, who hosted the discussion from the store. They connected with three elite up-and-coming QB prospects in the country in Trey Lance - a projected top 10 draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft, Jamie Newman another who won’t have to wait long to hear his name called, and Emory Jones - highly touted Florida Gator QB expected to be a top overall selection in the following year’s class.

The concept “Be Legendary” really does fit true-to-size with Deshaun and King Saladeen: their resilient journey to the top - both predicated on uplifting those around them as well as those who cannot do for themselves, centers on a personal standard of excellence and humility that few can claim.