SBD/Issue 103/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Blast From The Past: Upshaw Denies NFL Retirees’ Allegations

NFLPA’s Upshaw Denies
Retirees’ Claims In Lawsuit
NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw denied allegations in a federal class-action lawsuit that claimed Players Inc. “has improperly represented retired players and could owe them tens of millions of dollars,” according to Alan Schwarz of the N.Y. TIMES. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by former NFLers Bernie Parrish and Herb Adderley, “questions why only 358 players received any licensing revenue in 2005 from licensees like apparel and video-game companies.” Upshaw said that only players whose names and likenesses were “actually employed by licensees were entitled to royalties under Players Inc.’s voluntary group licensing arrangement with retired players.” He added that “barring human error, all deserving former players had been paid, and that the other 90[%] generated no income due them” for ’05. Upshaw: “If you generate revenue, you get it — it’s that simple.”

SEEKING REPAYMENT: Adderley said that he had “never been sent royalties” for a deal allowing his name to be included on a line of Reebok apparel. But Upshaw noted that Reebok had “decided not to use Adderley and, therefore, no money was due him.” NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler said that Parrish “never signed the group licensing agreement and so was not due royalties from Players Inc. licensing deals.” Parrish noted that some video games feature past NFL players’ likeness without using their names, and Ronald Katz, attorney for the retired players, argued that even if names of past players are not displayed, Players Inc. “behaves in the marketplace as if it represents all former players” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).

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NFL, Reebok

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