Quarterback Matt Barkley is “ecstatic” to rejoin the Buffalo Bills. He loves the players, the team’s culture and the city.
He also got an important nickname during his last stint.
“Somehow when I was in Buffalo … ‘Bitcoin Barkley’ came from somewhere in the Bills Mafia,” he said.
Barkley thinks the name fits. His podcast on alternate forms of investment, “Making Bread,” launched Thursday, 10 days after he signed a one-year contract with Buffalo. It’s been an exciting stretch for Barkley, as he delves into his off-the-field passion while readying for his 10th NFL season.
Barkley can serve as confidant to starter Josh Allen, as he has in the past.
“It kind of happened pretty quickly. But it was an easy decision to say yes to come back,” he told The Buffalo News. “Buffalo is like a second home to me and my family. When I told my wife (Brittany), she started crying just because how much the city means and the people mean to us, and it’s a great organization.”
A few days earlier, Barkley was golfing with Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Barkley saw as Allen “had his GM hat on” trying to recruit linebacker Von Miller to join the Bills.
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“We were laughing at some of the texts he was sending him trying to get him to come to Buffalo to work,” Barkley said.
Not long after Miller agreed to come to Buffalo, Barkley ended up getting recruited too, with Bills General Manager Brandon Beane reaching out to bring back Barkley, who played in Buffalo from 2018 to 2020.
His familiarity with the Bills’ offense and his strong relationship with Allen were big factors for Beane. Barkley has seen Allen grow since his rookie year, and is “super excited” to be back in Buffalo, where a large part of his role will be supporting the starting quarterback.
“It’s cool to be back with him now and be a voice on the sideline that in those heated moments, whether it’s being an extra set of eyes or encouragement or whatever that looks like to help them out,” Barkley said.
Barkley and Allen will be joined in the quarterback room by veteran Case Keenum, who was acquired in a trade from the Cleveland Browns the day before Barkley’s return was announced. While this is the first time they’ll be teammates, Barkley has gotten to know Keenum over the years from different camps and offseason workouts and events.
“I’ve always liked Case, and we’ve always got along. Golfed a few times,” Barkley said. “So he’ll be a great addition to the room for Josh as a vet.”
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Barkley, 31, hopes to keep playing football for quite a while, and he doesn’t expect hosting “Making Bread” to divert his attention; Barkley says he would be researching and reading about cryptocurrency regardless. Talking about it is just an outlet.
He’s been interested in cryptocurrency since 2016, first getting into Ethereum before expanding his portfolio.
“It’s fun, it’s easy for me to talk about,” Barkley said. “I feel like I know enough about crypto to carry the conversations, yet I’m still learning something new in every podcast. So it’s fun, hopefully, for listeners to be able to learn, to get their feet wet in crypto and dive deeper, but also for me to learn through the same process as well.”
He’s been a guest on podcasts before, but hosting was a new venture. When Team Whistle, a sports media and entertainment company, partnered with Amaze Media Labs, it felt like a natural fit for Barkley, given his passion for the subject matter.
There’s still been some crossover of interests. Former NFL quarterback DeShone Kizer joined the premiere episode to discuss NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. The unique tokens are tradable digital assets and are stored on a blockchain.
“I never really wanted to do one that was strictly football. I feel like I talk football all day,” Barkley said. “But when this idea came around to start up a crypto podcast (where) we could talk about NFTs and bring in some cool guests and people that I’ve met outside of football to talk investing in different areas, it was an easy – a very easy – yes for me.”
On the podcast, Barkley aims to connect with listeners who have some degree of knowledge on the topic, but he said the podcast won’t be so technical to the point that it becomes difficult to understand. He wants it to be educational.
“(There are) teaching moments, too, to maybe learn about sound investing, or where people have gone wrong, so we can learn from mistakes,” Barkley said. “It’s not going to be over anyone’s head that at least knows what’s going on or has heard of crypto.”
Critics of cryptocurrency have pointed to fluctuating markets, varying environmental impact, and a potential for future regulations. Still, numerous NFL players have begun to dabble, and Barkley believes alternative forms of investment are here to stay.
He recognizes that athletes and entertainers might be more likely to invest, given an easy entry point from “excessive amount of capital that that they would like to invest.” He’s enjoyed talking about it in the locker room, even there’s a wide range of opinions.
“I’ve heard it all, from ‘It’s not real, you can’t see it,’ to ‘We’re going to the moon,’ ” Barkley said.
Barkley has asked teams if he could be paid in Bitcoin, but has been denied. NFL players cannot be directly paid in cryptocurrency, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“When you see the headlines of players getting paid, it’s mostly a third-party conversion of their salaries that they’re doing to get paid in crypto, because the CBA doesn’t directly allow for that right now,” Barkley said, “but pushing for it.”