WNBA legend Sue Bird and former NFL quarterback Eli Manning are joining the ownership group for NJ/NY Gotham FC, according to multiple reports. They will be joining NBA star Kevin Durant and former soccer player Carli Lloyd as some of the other high-profile investors in the franchise.
On Thursday, Sportico reported Bird and Manning are investing at a $40 million valuation, which is a record for the National Women’s Soccer League.
The idea of Bird, a New York native, getting involved in the soccer world is not at all far fetched. The Seattle Storm guard is engaged to Megan Rapinoe, a forward for the OL Reign in Seattle and the U.S. Women’s National Team. Bird told Forbes that she decided to join Gotham FC because it seemed like a good opportunity for growth in the league. The team also met her businesses requirements, and she felt that they truly support women’s empowerment in sports.
The NWSL had its inaugural season in 2013. Since then, the popularity of women’s soccer has grown steadily. Bird discussed the challenges that new businesses face early on and told Forbes that she believes the NWSL “already has done the hard part.” Her outlook on the development of the league is quite positive.
“The talent level continues to get better, which speaks to the high level that’s being played in the U.S.,” Bird said.
Bird is set to retire at the conclusion of the 2022 WNBA season after 21 seasons in the league. She’ll leave basketball with her name in the history books. Bird has four championships and is only one of three players in the WNBA or NBA to win championship titles in three different decades (2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020).
Manning spent 16 seasons with the New York Giants from 2004 to 2019. Like Bird, he closed his athlete chapter with quite a few accomplishments. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP and a a four-time Pro Bowler.