NFL Retirees Blitz EA With Madden Lawsuit

NFL retirees are unhappy that Electronic Arts used their likenesses and stats in Madden NFL 09 without paying for the rights to do so. The game didn’t include the old-timer’s names in order to run the end around on licensing fees, the class-action lawsuit alleges. EA also changed the players’ numbers for an extra layer of protection.

IGN quotes the lawsuit:

“The only significant detail that EA changes from the real-life retired NFL players is their jersey number. Despite EA’s ‘scrambling’ of the retired NFL players’ numbers, the games are designed so that consumers of the Madden NFL video game franchise will have no difficulty identifying who the ‘historic’ players are.”

This is not the first time EA has been tackled in such a manner. Former college athletes are fighting an ongoing lawsuit with EA on similar grounds.

Retired NFL Vets Sue EA Over Madden [IGN]


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  1. slim150 says:

    why do they keep bothering to put in these historic teams? i haven’t played madden in forever, but when i did noone ever used them.

    • sth9669 says:

      Because, if you’re playing Franchise mode and you get a ton of madden bucks (or whatever their stupid point system is called) you can unlock historic players into the free agent pool and sign them to your team. So basically if you’re any good, in season three instead of drafting a rookie RB, you can just sign 1987 Bo Jackson instead. . . or pick up Reggie White instead of a DE in the 3rd round. . .

    • DavidCopperballs says:

      If you were a Giants fan in the mid 90s, that was the only way to play the game.

  2. sth9669 says:

    Guh. . . EA Sports has turned into a ridiculous joke ever since they signed that exclusive licensing deal with the NFLPA. More competition please, I can’t remember the last Madden game that was actually worth the $60 price tag (which I suppose it why I just get last year’s game from my brother for free when he buys the new one. . . and even for free they don’t really seem worth it).

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I was always a big fan of Play Action Football and Tecmo Bowl on the NES.

      • sth9669 says:

        YESSSS!! Play Action Football was the best! My parents weren’t cool enough to get us Tecmo Bowl, but Play Action football was awesome.

        It was really hard to tackle because you could only run in 8 directions, and even in that game bo jackson was completely unstoppable. . . good times man

        • Mighty914 says:

          No way, Tecmo Super Bowl all the way. Truly the zenith of 8 bit football.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          I thought I was the only one owned played Play Action Football. I can remember how realistic I thought it was when it came out — real NFL players, measuring with the chain on close calls, 15 minute quarters, national anthem, cut scenes of touchdowns…

          I definitely liked Tecmo but that was more of an action game.

      • Bativac says:

        I am not a football fan but we played the hell out of Tecmo Bowl. Good times.

      • TheWillow says:

        I’m not a football fan. So I played basewars instead. baseball + killer robots.

        • sth9669 says:

          Speaking of Killer robots, did you ever play Cyberball for Sega Genesis? That was totally my favorite game when I was a kid. . .

          If you played well and got enough money from winning, you could upgrade your defense to include the super linebacker with the jet boost and then when you sacked the other team’s QB, he’d a-splode all over the field. . .

          Rocket boost FTW!

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Basewars was awesome — it was definitely an obscure game when it came out.

    • common_sense84 says:

      You won’t even be able to play online doing that anymore. They are now putting in one time use codes to activate online play, so you have to pay like 15 bucks to play a used copy online.

  3. dolemite says:

    Isn’t it hilarious how these companies whine about not getting their fair share of the money when people sell used games, pirate software, etc, yet the company will do things like this so that they can make more profit?

    • GMFish says:

      The difference is we don’t have copyrights on our faces or stats. While, on the other hand, EA has valid copyrights on their software.

      • dragonvpm says:

        Thank you captain obvious. However if you had read the article you’d know that the issue is that EA is using the players’ likenesses without compensating them for it so in effect it is “stealing” just as much as someone “steals” when they pirate software or how they “steal” when they deprive EA of a first sale by reselling their used games.

        Too many media companies like to try and manipulate people by talking about “stealing” and “right & wrong” when they talk about copyright infringement and similar crimes but they cry foul when we turn around and use the same language to criticize their attempts to pad their bottom line. Once they start to talk about doing the right thing and not “stealing” they make themselves a target for this sort of criticism since it seems pretty clear that EA is using the players’ likenesses (enough so that people who play the game can easily enough figure out who’s who) while “stealing” from the players by not paying them for this use.

    • jivesukka says:

      “I like it that we have rappers who used to be thugs and gangsters but now they are saying don’t download our music because that is stealing. HA HA HA … ouch, oh, I am choking on the irony!”
      – Daniel Tosh

  4. Griking says:

    I attended a bunch of NFL games. Can I sue that my likeness is being used in the crowds?

  5. fatediesel says:

    Former Browns great Jim Brown had a similar suit dismissed last year. I’m not sure what is different about this suit.

  6. savvy9999 says:

    The Fridge up the middle for a TD!

    Best play of any Superbowl, evah. And I don’t even like da Bears.

    • Murph1908 says:

      I disagree. As a Bears fan, this was the biggest farce of any Superbowl. Do you realize Walter Payton didn’t get a TD in that game?

      Sweetness deserved it. To give it to Perry was an insult to Payton’s greatness.

      • savvy9999 says:

        I didn’t realize (or forgot) that Sweetness didn’t get a TD that game. But really, does it matter? Who is in the HOF (and lives on in the mind of many as one of the greatest ever to play the game), and who is a walking Alii infomercial?

        In that game, for pure fan entertainment value, that TD was phenomenal. I remember it like it was yesterday.

        • Murph1908 says:

          I think it does. It was bittersweet when that game was over that even though the Bears scored 46 points, Payton didn’t get a TD, only rushed for like 60 yards, and was credited with the fumble that gave the Pats one of the quickest leads in Superbowl history.*

          And the game was essentially over. So when you have first and goal at the one, with a ‘free’ touchdown to give, who do you give it to? One of the greatest Bears in history, or the novelty sideshow?

          But I can see how you can see it from the other side, as a football fan instead of a Bears fan. And we’re not the first idiots to debate the topic.

          *I think it WAS the quickest in history at the time, and the new quickest is Devin Hester running back the opening kickoff for the Bears against the Colts a few years back. But I don’t have time to look it up at the moment.

    • Nighthawke says:

      John “The Diesel” Riggins, Washington Redskins 81-85. He didn’t try to avoid tackles, he chugged forward, running over, through and under them. ’82 vs Dallas Cowboys at home, someone managed to get a full sized diesel air horn into the stadium and every time Riggins ran a play that horn would sound.

  7. thewritejerry says:

    You mean Plim Junkett and Perry the Icebox are based on real people?

    • DavidCopperballs says:

      Remember Roger Clemens Baseball for the NES? That had no licensing at all. But the New York team had superstars like Matt Donningly.

  8. Operation Cornflakes says:

    How can you copyright stats?

    • Griking says:

      I think that the lawsuit is claiming that including the players height, weight and stats identifies the player as much as a name or number would.

      • sth9669 says:

        It even goes farther than that, they include the likeness of the player too, I mean not a picture of their faces, but body proportions, whether or not they wore arm pads, wrist pads, what facemask they wore, if they wore and eye shield. I mean Mark Kelso’s historic Bills player has the extra helmet padding in the game.

        That was the issue in the college game, is that Sam Keller from AZ St basically said they created a player that had his helmet, with his tinted visor and wrist band/playbook band combo that he uniquely wears combined with his height, weight, and body proportions with his team and number, that it is effectively him.

        I also know, (in the past at least, since I haven’t played one of the NCAA football games in 10 years) that EA sports used to set it up so that if you changed all your players from #5 on AZ St to Sam Keller, the announcer would correctly say his name in the game instead of saying “. . .#5 back to pass. . .” so the game obviously stores some kind of record that that player has a certain name, even if they didn’t have it set up that way out of the box (and don’t tell me that they just take a bunch of common names and have them saved in there, because my team had some crazy complicated samoan names on it and they got ’em right every time).

        • CoachTabe says:

          The current NCAA Football 11 does exactly that. I downloaded an updated roster with real player names in it and the announcers now call (a lot of the) players by their real names. So, yeah, EA knows exactly what they’re doing and they definitely should have to pay the players for it.

    • benh999 says:

      The league, not the players, owns the stats. EA’s deal is with the NFL. While I can watch games and record my own stats, the “official” stats are copyrighted works owned by the NFL.

  9. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    Seriously? Just another misuse of our court system. I mean puhleese……what they already spent their fortunes and have to resort to this kind of lame crap to make them some more money?

    • sth9669 says:

      Well, as an FYI, until the league allowed free agency in the 70’s, and even up through the 80’s, most of these “historic” players didn’t make a fortune. They played for a decent wage, got their bells rung, and half of them died of brain damage by the time they were 50.

      I think the impetus for the suit in this one isn’t so Jim Brown or Terry Bradshaw can make another quick $50k, it’s so the guy who played backup DT for the ’85 Bears can get a little bit of money from his likeness being used (because his likeness IS being used. . . ) since he’s probably got a shit-ton of medical bills and a crappy quality of life from playing in the NFL for 5-10 years. Though I’ll leave it up to the courts as to whether or not they should be payed for it, the suit does have merit since it’s an interesting legal question, and there’s really no question of IF their likenesses are being used. . .

  10. Student Boy says:

    As somebody who has had to watch EA slowly destroy the NASCAR franchise with their exclusive contract. I say “good”. If the only way to get my NASCAR is to play the terrible 06, 07, 08 & 009. Then they deserve to lose a few million.

  11. Speedstr says:

    I think it’s rather insulting to the retiree. I think they put in a lot of hard work on the field to become the “legend” that they were. If I were an NFL retiree, to see current player’s names and jersey’s numbers correctly stated in the game, and not your own, (simply to avoid licensing fees) would leave a bitter taste in my mouth, even if I were not expecting any money.

    I’m not sure what the licensing fee is for retired players (whether it’s negotiated on an individual basis or a flat fee) but I feel that it’s more of a case of EA wanting to have more attractive features and run the end around on licensing fees, than it is of a case of NFL retirees trying to “get what’s theirs”

    (For a laugh, I thought the headline first read “NFL Referees Blitz EA With Madden Lawsuit”) Had to check my eyes…

  12. Major Annoyance says:

    I firmly believe that EA is one of the most evil companies out there and deserving of at least a fifth runnerup spot for the Golden Poo award. They have tied up and then totally ruined more game franchises than all of the rest of them put together.

  13. Blious says:

    If they are using their likeness, they should be getting approval.

    I think that is pretty clear cut, imo