According to the AP, a federal jury ordered the NFL Players Association to pay $28.1 million to retired players after finding the union failed to properly market their images. The suit was brought by Packer Legend & Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley on behalf of 2,056 retired players who contend the union failed to actively pursue marketing deals on their behalf with video games, trading cards and others sports products.
Adderley, 69, played cornerback for the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys and appeared in four of the first six Super Bowls. He appeared every day in court wearing his yellow "NFL Alumni" sports jacket and wept when the jury's verdict was read.
"I won three Super Bowls and this feels better than all of them combined," Adderley said immediately after the verdict was announced. "I always felt I had one big play left."
"We felt we had to send a message that the union needs to represent and protect all its members," said Susan Smith, part of the 10-person jury that voted unanimously in favor of the retirees. "We felt the players' union didn't do that."
I first read about the case in early May of this year when the judge allowed it to go forward and reported on an AP update in October at the fan forum. Shame on the players union for not representing ALL of it's members. Oh wait did I say protect it's members? I meant executives protecting themselves -
Lawyers representing Adderley and the retired players told the jury during the three-week trial that the union actively sought to cut them out of licensing deals so active players could receive bigger royalty payments. As proof, the retirees pointed to a 2001 letter from an NFLPA executive telling Electronic Arts Inc. executives to scramble the images of retired players in the company's popular Madden video game, otherwise the company would have to pay them.
EA's Madden game contains 143 "vintage" teams populated with no-name players that closely resemble Adderley and other retirees. Yet only active players received a cut of the EA deal, the union's largest, which surpassed $35 million for 2008.
So instead of doing your duty to NFL History as a 59% of the total revenue gatekeeper - you..Mr./Mrs. (put name of NFLUPA Executive of your choice) decide it is more important to hold the line on precedent (whilst taking a nice cut) and forego such unreasonable long term strategic goals as educating a new generational class on the breadth and sweat and history of the sport...not to mention an untapped resource in the marketing potential of older players who helped establish the modern era's success. It's the shortsightedness of it that makes me sick. The NFL will only survive if it remembers it's history, always - the more that is taken for granted and greed is allowed to drive the train - the more it squanders the opportunity to be sustainable. It is no coincidence that it was a Packer (and Dallas) Legend who had to lead the charge to shock the sytem. Kudos to Herb Adderley and all of the men of the "vintage" NFL who made the current NFL what it is today.
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