Byron Perkins, the out gay senior leader on the Hampton Pirates football team, has been recruited by the NFL.
The NFL’s Growth Audiences team — instructed with building the breadth of audiences for the league — has identified the LGBTQ community as an area of potential growth, and a partnership with Perkins made a lot of sense.
That’s from Javier Farfan, a culture marketing strategist at the NFL. Farfan told Outsports that the project with Perkins, as well as other people who represent a diverse fanbase of the NFL, is just the beginning.
“How do we make sure we think about the future fan of the NFL?” Farfan told Outsports. “We make a concerted effort to be inclusive and how do we create moments and an authentic connection to certain communities.”
That meant recruiting Perkins to be part of NFL Shop’s “Ambassadorship program,” featuring the store’s “The Drip” promotion, which invites folks in different communities to be involved in marketing efforts. In return, Perkins has access to attendance at NFL games, as well as other perks.
The result of the partnership with Perkins is a short segment in which he talks about some of his fashion choices.
“I would say I draw inspiration from my mother,” Perkins says in the spot.. “She’s got some nice swag — My father as well. I always love my cleats, the cleats have got to be fresh.”
Farfan particularly appreciated the down-home quality of the spot, with Perkins and another fan simply being themselves.
“It was amazing because we allow people to be themselves in this spot. It’s not like a traditional spot with actors, It’s about really showcasing who they are.”
Separate from being “recruited” for his NFL Shop spot, Outsports continues to be asked about Perkins’ NFL prospects. Truth is, it’s hard to say. Very few HBCU players are drafted, so unless he bucks the trend, he will — if he chooses to pursue an NFL career — likely need to earn a roster spot in camp next summer. Or the summer after that.
Making it to the NFL is really, really hard.
Perkins did make the NFL Draft Diamonds’ “Small school prospect watch list” for 2024 — one of six Hampton players listed — so he’s at least on the radar of some people in and around the sport. His ability to be signed by an NFL team at this point is up to him, the people in 32 front office, as well as opportunity presenting itself.
Perkins has two PBUs and an interception this season.
Every single hard-working football player, with some modicum of talent, has a shot at the NFL. Perkins is no different. It will depend largely on teams attending the Hampton draft workout and talking with the young man, as he is eager to share wisdom beyond his years.