A giddy Blake Martinez celebrated like his New York Giants had just made a game-saving defensive stop. Only, Martinez was nowhere near a football field. He was sitting behind a desk with fellow NFL player Cassius Marsh opening Pokemon card packs as part of a “box break” card auction.
What had elicited this reaction from Martinez? In an auction that cost the buyer roughly $3,300 Martinez had just watched Marsh uncover a Charizard card worth $18,000 in a just-broken pack.
Martinez recently took a few minutes out of his offseason to chat with me about his box breaking venture. Here is what he said about his jubilant reaction, which came on the final card of his first three-pack break:
“It’s kinda like the same component of like getting a sack, that adrenaline rush, those endorphins. A sack, a big play, an interception, whatever it ends up being. We get a turnover as a defense, everyone’s going crazy. Winning a game, winning the division. Just those moments, because it’s like something you only experience once in your life,” Martinez said.
“At that specific moment, that specific person you have that excitement factor, that nostalgia factor and being able to do that for someone else all at the same time is just a crazy flood of emotion.”
(Go to the 17-minute mark of the video below to see what unfolded)
Many of us grew up collecting cards of some sort. For me, it was baseball cards with the ridiculous, tooth-breaking, rock-hard, over-sized stick of bubble gum inside. I’m still mad that my collection of 700+ cards (OK, an exact Ruthian total of 714 cards) somehow disappeared from the attic of my mom’s house, where I stored it when I left for college.
Martinez was no different, though his passion was collecting Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards. At some point in his youth, card collecting was surpassed by other passions. He never, though, lost his Pokemon passion.
“I’ve always been into Pokemon,” Martinez said. “I’ve played every single video game that’s come out.”
Drawn back to cards this offseason by an exploding market, Martinez realized in January while participating as a buyer in a box break on Twitch that he was staring at an opportunity.
“While I was doing that I was like, wait, why don’t I do this and try to have kinda like a side passion for myself,” Martinez said. “The main thing for me was I don’t have to pay this premium and I get the nostalgia factor of being able to open these packs for other people.”
Martinez got hooked up with Marsh, who was already way farther down the Pokemon box break rabbit hole. Marsh actually owns a company called Cash Cards Unlimited that has a pair of storefronts.
“I kinda partnered with them because they have the infrastructure to do the breaks and then I have the connections to get the boxes,” Martinez said.
Not to mention, of course, that he and Marsh have the shared passion. When you find a kindred spirit, you roll with it.
Martinez might even one day follow in Marsh’s footsteps with storefronts of his own.
“I’m definitely intrigued on possibly doing that for myself moving forward,” he said.
Martinez has now done three box breaks, with the most expensive card opened being a Lugia card valued at $100,000.
“That adrenaline rush, the excitement that you’re the one opening the pack. Not many people can be like I’m opening this thing that was made 20 years ago and it’s never seen the light of day until I ripped open the box,” Martinez said.
“It’s one of those cool moments, at least for me.”
Fans may think of the players on their favorite teams as athletes, and only athletes. Like all of us, though, these are people with families, responsibilities, interests outside their chosen profession and an occasional need to simply chill.
For Martinez, cards and video games provide an interest away from the game. Box breaking might provide a future business opportunity.
“I think everybody has their given thing outside of football that gives them happiness, gives them joy. Whether it’s video games, Pokemon, movies, whatever it is,” Martinez said. “I think it helps you kinda be that normal person because we’re stuck in that realm where you’re entertaining other people, super-stressful job, you mess up once everyone’s going to be on your back.
“It’s like I can go play this video game and lose and nobody’s going to destroy me besides maybe the 15-year-old kid that yells at me because we lost. At the end of the day it’s not as big of a deal as losing one-seventeenth of your football games during a season.”