On August 7th the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks kicked off their 2021 season. Defeating the Edmonton Elks 16-12 at Commonwealth Stadium, the Redblacks played their first game since November 1st 2019. Missing the playoffs in 2019 and losing the 2020 CFL season due to COVID-19, it was over 600 days without football for most CFL players, making the time from December 2019 through July 2021 difficult for a number of athletes, but for Ottawa Redblacks’ receiver Nate Behar it was 600-plus days of work, preparing for his future after his playing career.
Over the extended off-season, Behar worked on his app, Firework which is specialized to help athletes with brand exposure and to profit off of their name, image and likeness. The work surrounding the app started in December of 2019 following the 2019 CFL season which Behar spent with the Ottawa Redblacks, catching 16 passes for 169 yards in 17 games in red and black. He said in an interview with JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic earlier this week regarding the app, “Back in December of 2019 I had some businesses reach out to me about athletes they want to have tied to their companies and I kind of turned my thinking towards why they were asking me about them instead of the other guys they could have talked to. I ended up asking around to see how some of my friends and teammates go about getting brand deals, and a lot of them didn’t know the details of it or how they happen so I thought I would do something in my off-season that could help with that.” Starting off the off-season, Behar connected with some people with similar visions and goals as him and began to work on a platform which can connect brands and companies directly with athletes of all levels.
The platform was first created as “ATNMY” in November of 2020 after a summer he spent working on it and coaching with teammates Justin Howell, Dominique Davis, Sherrod Baltimore, Avery Ellis and more with Formula 11 but later transformed into “Firework”. The app launched in the summer of 2021 and is now available to download for all athletes and brands. With the 2021 CFL season also in full swing, Behar has found some of his Ottawa Redblacks teammates using the app themselves and looking to expand on their careers outside of football. “This is what we built it for,” Behar said, “To see athletes get it and see the worth in it is what it is all about.” On the Ottawa Redblacks’ alongside Behar is Micah Awe, Justin Howell and others that have already explored their options post-football, even creating apps of their own like Awe’s “Purpleshift” and Howell’s “Tappdin”. Asked about his ambitious teammates, he commented, “Its been great, we’ve had a few chats and I love what (Micah and Justin) are building. Its cool to see athletes that have the idea of what they are going to do after football because it has to come to an end at some point.”
Behar and his team at Firework have worked extremely hard on the platform and to help athletes off of the football field, but he has also been working hard on the field, even recently seeing some results, having caught 10 of 14 passes for 123 yards in the first two Redblacks home games of the season against the Alouettes and Lions. This is the first time that he’s had a primary role in an offence in the CFL, 257 yards being his season high coming into the 2021 season and “it feels good.” he said, “Its good to contribute to the team and make an impact to what we are doing out there. I haven’t really been able to do that much before but there’s definitely a lot left to do.”
The Ottawa Redblacks sit at 1-3 as they prepare for their second game of the season against the B.C Lions, led by former Ottawa coach Rick Campbell. After that is a bye week and a few home games. Leading into the big game, which now looks like a must win, to prevent going 1-4 to open the season Behar had commented, “A win coming off of a bye is always the best. You don’t want to sit the whole week thinking about some things that you could have done differently to win the game. When you win you can rest and prepare for the games ahead and thats what we want to do.”