SBJ/September 10 - 16, 2001/No Topic Name

NFL QB Club discussing sale to Players Inc.

The NFL Quarterback Club is in discussions to sell itself to Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFL Players Association. Terms have yet to be negotiated.

The move follows a cessation of hostilities between the organizations in April, when they signed an agreement authorizing NFL Properties to sell NFL player rights for the first time.

The Quarterback Club, a group of past and present NFL players who opted out of Players Inc., markets its members' names to products and charities, and invests in fledgling companies. It has less star power now than when it was created in 1990, although its membership does include such current players as Donovan McNabb, Jerry Rice and Michael Vick.

Quarterback Club executive director Frank Vuono said the talks were sparked by the league's efforts to try to extend its collective-bargaining agreement. The Quarterback Club is exempt from the players association's group licensing agreement.

"With the league representing the [players association] for sponsorship, we're trying to make it so there isn't any opportunity for ambushing," Vuono said, "but the structure of the deal is far from set. With NFL [Properties] now having rights to sell all but the 30-40 active players [who are with the Quarterback Club], agreeing on a price on that organization will not be easy."

Sources said the Quarterback Club generates $5 million to $6 million a year in revenue, and any multiple of that would not likely be palatable to the players association. "On any kind of monetary issues, we are far apart," Vuono said. "On a lot of the other issues, we are getting closer and closer."

Nonetheless, Players Inc. "might just buy it to make it go away," said one marketer close to the deal. "The QBC is scheduled to meet this week in New York."

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