NFL retirees who are seeking a bigger slice of the pie from licensing deals such as the one involving the Madden NFL video game series have appealed to the man himself.
In Parrish, Adderley et al vs NFL Players, Inc., a class action lawsuit scheduled for trial in U.S. District Court in California in October, the former players claim that they have not gotten their fare share of revenues despite being depicted as members of some classic teams in Madden. The retired players are suing NFL Players, Inc., the licensing arm of the players union, the NFLPA.
Jeff Nixon, 51, who played free safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-1984 is tracking the lawsuit on his blog. Nixon has penned an open letter to John Madden, calling for the football announcer and former NFL coach to support the retired players:
You are... the face and name behind the wildly popular EA Sports Video Game - Madden NFL... will you sit back and let the NFLPA and EA Sports continue to take advantage of our Hall of Fame players?
...Evidence in the Retired Players Class Action suit demonstrates that the NFLPA and Players Inc. were working against the interests of the retired players and in favor of your boss EA Sports. For example, this internal email from NFLPA Executive Clay Walker, confirms that Players Inc. negotiated a deal with EA on behalf of retired Hall of Fame players which was significantly below market rate:
“I was able to forge this deal with the HOF that provides them with 400K per year (which is significantly below market rate) in exchange for the HOF player rights. EA owes me a huge favor because of that threat was enough to persuade Take Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there.”
...Instead of negotiating the best possible deal for the retired players which it purported to represent, the NFLPA and Players Inc. were doing favors for EA by reducing compensation to retired players, and driving a competitive licensee [Take-Two's NFL2K series] out of the market...
And in this February 22, 2007 email from NFLPA Executive Clay Walker to Players Inc. in-house attorney Joe Nahra, the naked truth is exposed to the world:
“...The per player price for most of these guys was tens of thousands of dollars less than what they were guaranteed by Take Two Interactive so it’s a real coup that we were able to pull this off so cheaply. You have to remember that EA’s total cost is only $200,000 per year. We know that Take Two offered six figure deals to several former NFL players so the total cost is millions below market prices..."
John, these are your fellow Hall of Fame Players they are talking about! Are you going to let them get away with this? I know that EA is your employer, but come on...
GP: We're working on obtaining additional documents in the suit. The information concerning the elimination of Take-Two Interactive's NFL2K series is fascinating, to say the least. That's a topic about which GP has railed for some time.