Blake Martinez retired from the NFL last fall , and the unusual gamble paid off with more than $11 million in reported earnings. Now, less than a year into business, the former Giants linebacker has been permanently banned from a prominent online marketplace amid allegations of scamming customers.
Martinez, 29, founded Blakes Breaks, his own collectables company, to profit in finding top-tier cards and merchandise from the Pokémon franchise. The business venture stemmed from research Martinez had done during the latter stages of a seven-year NFL career, including an abbreviated 2022 stint with the Raiders.
After multiple customers took to Reddit with accusations of wrongdoing, including orders never being shipped, the Whatnot marketplace announced Friday that a "comprehensive investigation" led to the removal of Martinez's Blakes Breaks account.
"We really appreciate the community's commitment to reporting trust and safety issues," Whatnot said in a statement. "Our priority is ensuring a fair and honest experience for customers and upholding our community guidelines. After a comprehensive investigation into (Blakes Breaks)' operations, we have decided to permanently remove the seller from our platform, including the individual employees involved in misconduct."
The marketplace also announced that "all buyers impacted by the infractions" had been refunded.
Martinez, meanwhile, briefly addressed rumors of scamming during an Instagram video days before the Whatnot announcement. He did not explain or apologize for any specific actions but acknowledged a staffing change and downplayed the severity of any mistakes that occurred between Blakes Breaks and its customers.
"I understand the optics," he said. "I know the type of business I run. ... I made a good amount of money -- everybody knows, in the NFL -- (and) I knew stepping into this (I) was going to have a target on my back."
Martinez spent the first four seasons of his football career with the Packers. He parlayed a productive run as a starting linebacker into a three-year, $30 million free agent deal with the Giants in 2020. He was released two years later, appearing in just four games for the Raiders in 2022 before his retirement.