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I love football, and I love "Fortnite." Put them together, and it's heaven.

On Monday, the NFL and Epic Games announced a partnership that will make gear, known as skins, for all 32 teams available as part of the wildly popular game's Battle Royale mode Friday.

Gamers can customize their player with whatever team and jersey number they want, and the combination can be changed at the player's choosing. You won't be playing as Tom Brady, just a player with a Patriots No. 12 jersey.

As a gamer, and someone who has played "Fortnite," the move is a win-win for both sides. The NFL gets to add some of its own flair to the game while "Fortnite" gets to cash in on football fans who want to play in their team's uniform.

"It's just a way to bring some fun and some pop culture relevance to the game," said Rachel Hoagland, the NFL's vice president and head of gaming and esports.

Hoagland also talked up that players can choose between male and female characters. "That is actually very exciting for us, with the avatars being available as females and being able to have females in NFL uniforms for the first time," Hoagland said.

The NFL is sure to be questioned about certain aspects of the partnership.

Why is the league aligning itself with a shooting game where players fight with guns and explosives to be the last person standing?

What about Play 60? You know, the league's initiative "to inspire physically active lifestyles in schools and homes nationwide" by promoting 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day.

Yes, you do use guns and explosives to try to eliminate opponents, but "Fortnite" has the look of a cartoon. There's isn't the blood and gore you see in other first- or third-person shooter games. You mine for building materials with pickaxes and can drive around in souped-up golf carts. And as for the Play60 response, where's the uproar every summer when the new "Madden" football video game comes out?

You want a real downside to the deal? Picture this. You're one of just five players left in the game. You're in a great position to get the win, or "Victory Royale" in "Fortnite" terms. You're so close to winning you can taste it.

Then, a player in a Browns or Bills jersey sneaks up, eliminates you and dances in celebration. That's the real negative to the deal.

So when it comes to "Fortnite" and the NFL, the question isn't: Is this a good or bad move for the league? It's more like: When are other leagues going to follow suit?

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November 6, 2018
 
 
 

 

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