Kotaku reports that "legacy" teams from past NFL seasons will no longer be included in any version of EA's best-selling Madden football game.
An unnamed EA spokesperson told Kotaku's Stephen Totilo that the decision was not entirely due to last year's class action suit in which NFL retirees won a staggering $28 million judgment against their former union, the NFLPA. While EA wasn't a defendant in the landmark suit, evidence at the trial showed that the NFLPA conspired with EA to "scramble" the identities of retired players so as to avoid individual licensing issues.
More recently, militant NFL retiree Bernie Parrish has been making noises about suing EA and John Madden himself over the use of the old players' images. The EA rep told Totilo:
[To say that the decision was based on the lawsuit] wouldn't be entirely accurate, because we haven't had legacy teams in Madden next-gen ever, and it was just a matter of getting some consistency across the entire franchise.
However, Fourth and Goal, a site dedicated to the interests of NFL retirees, has a different view on the news:
You’ve got to think that once the union was pounded with the $28.1M verdict the folks at EA Sports got more than a little nervous. After all, it was their company that produced the game and their employees that communicated with the union to scramble the images.