EA Sports used former Univ. of Florida QB Tim Tebow's name "in a handful of plays out of a formation called Shotgun Twin QB Tebow” in its "NCAA Football 10," which was released prior to Tebow's senior season at UF, according to Patrick Vint of SB NATION. Using an active college player's name “contradicts statements made by both the NCAA and EA Sports regarding the licensing of player names and likenesses.” The formation and play calls are “exclusive to Florida's playbook.” Former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, former Nebraska and Arizona State QB Sam Keller, and “a number of other players have sued the NCAA and Electronic Arts for violation of antitrust laws, based on their use of player likenesses in video games and other NCAA-licensed items” (SBNATION.com, 5/23). CBSSPORTS.com’s Mike Singer wrote “maybe it's a coincidence,” or maybe “it's just one more piece of evidence in the mounting case against the NCAA and its partners.” While the O'Bannon lawsuit has “largely flown beneath the public radar, the fact that Tim Tebow is now involved should ensure a more-than-healthy amount of coverage for the case” (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/23).
BLUE MAN GROUP: YAHOO SPORTS’ Frank Schwab wrote, “Anyone who has played the games will tell you that when ‘QB #16’ for Michigan has the exact same attributes as Denard Robinson (and is playing in an exact video game replica of Michigan Stadium, in an exact replica of the Michigan uniform), for example, it's pretty clear that player on the screen is supposed to be Denard Robinson.” But EA Sports and the NCAA “kept saying no names were used” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/23).
Univ. of Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater has been "billed as a Heisman Trophy candidate since the end of last season," but he has asked that the school "not mount a Heisman Trophy campaign for him," according to Eric Crawford of WDRB.com. He instead wants to have "any emphasis or publicity include the team as a whole." Bridgewater has "backed away from individual attention his whole career at U of L, but seemed resigned to the Heisman hoopla when he spoke with reporters before spring practice." When asked in April if he would mind the school mounting a Heisman publicity campaign on his behalf, Bridgewater said, "Not at all. ... I don't see anything wrong with it." But UL SID Rocco Gasparro recently said that the "more he thought about it, the more Bridgewater decided it wasn't his style." Bridgewater said that the Heisman is "not a priority for him, and that was behind his unusual request." Crawford noted voters are "rarely affected by Heisman campaigns anyway." UL still can "do the traditional things it would do for any All-American candidate, send out periodic emails updating statistics, and it can break Bridgewater out on his own web page with stats and news." But there likely will not be "gimmicks or slogans or even a bobblehead doll of the kind done for Dave Ragone before his senior season" at UL in '02 (WDRB.com, 5/20).
SMART DECISION? ESPN's Paul Finebaum said Bridgewater "just got more publicity out of 'College Football Live' than he would have with his campaign from Louisville, Kentucky, so I think it was smart move." ESPN's Ed Cunningham commended Bridgewater's decision to forgo a large campaign, but he said it "could really help the brand for Louisville." Cunningham noted people in '01 were "making fun of Oregon for putting Joey Harrington on a billboard across from Madison Square Garden," but the school's football team now is a "national brand." Louisville will join the ACC in '14, and it "could have a breakthrough like Oregon has had over the last five or six years" ("College Football Live," ESPN, 5/23).
While former NFLer Brian Urlacher's career "may be over ... he's well-positioned to launch a second career in Chicago, if he so desires: marketing," according to Danny Ecker of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. The eight-time Pro Bowler had the "highest 'N-Score' among active Chicago athletes" in '12. As of last summer, Urlacher's score ranked "behind only those" of Basketball HOFer Michael Jordan and Pro Football HOFer Mike Ditka as the "most widely known Chicago-tied sports figures." Bulls G Derrick Rose ranked "second on the active list," while Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews ranked third. Urlacher has "set himself up for a new career as a marketing dynamo around town ... if he really wants it." Chicago-based Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing President Doug Shabelman said, "If he's open to broadcasting opportunities that guys like (former Bears) Dan Hampton and Tom Waddle and Steve McMichael have done, he could do that." Ecker noted Urlacher was "active in the commercial space during his playing career, appearing in ads recently for brands like Comcast Xfinity, Old Spice and Coke Zero." Shabelman said, "Everything depends on if he sticks around the area. If he comes to Chicago just once or twice a year, it's a different story. But if he's seen at clubs and restaurants, or even buys in on a restaurant, he can do well" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com 5/22). In Chicago, Vaughn McClure writes it is "time for the next chapter" in Urlacher's life. Could it be "as a television analyst?" Urlacher said, "I don't know how good I'd be at that. It would take a lot of work to get me ready for it. But that might be something I look into." McClure notes Urlacher was a "regular paid guest on Fox Chicago's 'The Final Word' with host Lou Canellis the past three seasons." He said that "no one has reached out to him" about a future TV position (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/24).
Tennis fans using Twitter will find the monikers French Open and Roland Garros “reflected over the next two weeks in the abbreviated hash tags #RG13 and #FO13,” according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. French speakers “call the tournament, not just the stadium in which it is played, Roland Garros.” English speakers "still overwhelmingly favor French Open.” Event officials “have long hoped” China would “follow their lead.” But French Tennis Federation Communications & Marketing Dir Edouard-Vincent Caloni, whose organization operates the tourney, said, “The studies we’ve seen tell us that the translation of ‘Roland Garros’ in China clearly demonstrates that it’s mission impossible. It’s a linguistic barrier not just a marketing problem.”’ He added, “We know that tomorrow we are not going to say, ‘Stop calling us the French Open, call us Roland Garros!’ to two, three, five or eight million British fans who are crazy about tennis and to even more Americans." Clarey noted there is “no official Twitter feed labeled ‘French Open,’ only @rolandgarros in English and @rolandgarrosFR in French.” The site frenchopen.com was "eliminated” in ’08. Caloni said that “what exists now is rolandgarros.com in English, French and Mandarin.” He noted that the “dual identity of the tournament is not without a price.” Caloni also said that there is “no such thing as a licensed product line labeled French Open, which means that fans in, for example, North America, Australia, Britain and British-influenced India have a dearth of merchandise.” Caloni feels that a lack of licensed product is “costing the French Open market share" in the U.S. compared with the other three Grand Slam events. But he said that the FTF was “examining the possibility of starting a French Open line that would complement rather than compete with the Roland Garros line and probably be targeted at high-end consumers with the focus on luxury” (NYTIMES.com, 5/23).
When Annika Sorenstam 10 years ago this weekend became the first female to play in a PGA Tour event since '45, the experience “likely did even more for Sorenstam's future off the course than on,” according to Mechelle Voepel of ESPNW. But Sorenstam said, "I wasn't thinking that way then, but I was planting a seed. And when I look back at it, I would absolutely say that was one of the aftereffects.” Sorenstam, the “initially shy Swedish golfer, has transformed into ANNIKA, the head of her own business empire.” Her endeavors include “a golf academy, clothing line, golf-course designing business, wine label, fragrance, financial-planning group, charitable foundation and role as an all-purpose golf ambassador.” While the endeavors “would have happened in some form" without playing the PGA Tour event, it gave her “higher name recognition -- an undeniable asset in the entrepreneurial world -- and business connections that might not otherwise have been made.” Sorenstam also is “an exemplary role model for her fellow athletes in figuring out their lives after their playing careers end." Her role is “particularly noteworthy in women's athletics because there aren't many other examples.” Sorenstam's role models “for her multifaceted business were all male" in golfers Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Greg Norman. Various LPGA “standouts, including Nancy Lopez, have had specific business ties -- usually with equipment/clothing -- during and after their careers.” But there is really “no female athlete who has attempted something with the scope and depth of the ANNIKA brand.” Sorenstam said, "I don't know if my pursuits now are going to help somebody else down the road do the same things. But, hopefully, they will. I want athletes to see that there is so much more than just your playing career" (ESPNW.com, 5/22).