Madden Football vs. “old school” NFL players

Dear Alumni:

EA SPORTS has officially announced the Madden NFL 25, launching on August 27, 2013. This year’s game will feature a new Fan Cover Vote that will pit the NFL’s greatest legends against today’s hottest stars. A bracket of 32 all-time NFL greats will go head-to-head against one another, as will 32 modern NFL superstars, with the winners of each bracket facing off in the final round.

ESPN is conducting the fan vote on its site at this link.

I can’t believe that EA Sports executives and John Madden himself,  didn’t do the right thing and just put a few of our greatest legends on the cover. This should have been a no-brainer for the executives at EA Sports. They’re celebrating 25 years of the game!  The EA executives should have honored the “old-school” players for all the millions they have made using former player images – without having to pay a significant number of the “average” players any royalties.

Since its beginning in 1988, the franchise has sold approximately 99 million units and generated more than $3.7 billion in revenue. Not gross revenue – net revenue!  That’s pure profit.  The company on a whole, is projecting net revenue for 2013 to be over 4 Billion.  That’s more annual net revenue than the NFL generates!  

The EA Sports executives are making a lot of money and so is John Madden. His net worth – mostly as a result of his licensing agreement with EA – is estimated at around $200 million.

So, how much of the EA Sports revenue was shared with the “old-school” players whose images they used in their vintage games? Almost none of it, except for some Hall of Fame players. Even so, the Hall of Famers got low-balled for their publicity rights and the NFLPA helped EA Sports set up a monopoly on pro football gaming.

How do we know this?

In the Bernie Parrish, Herb Adderley lawsuit against the NFLPA, an employee for the NFLPA said the following in an email to an EA Sports executive: “I was able to forge this deal with [the Pro Football Hall of Fame] that provides them with $400K per year (which is significantly below market rate) in exchange for the HOF player rights. EA owes me a huge favor because that threat was enough to persuade Take Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football video game manufacturer out there.

As you know, retired players settled that lawsuit against the NFLPA for $27 million. The biggest reason the case was settled was because we discovered that the NFLPA had told EA Sports to scramble our images – which they did!

Unfortunately, the money from that lawsuit only went to players that signed group licensing agreements with the NFLPA. Many former players were left out of that settlement because they didn’t even know that the NFLPA was offering GLAs. Some have speculated that the NFLPA may have also put a number of the GLA’s in the shredding machine.

EA Sports could have easily paid for our publicity rights – so why didn’t they? I’ll tell you why – the vintage games don’t generate enough revenue for EA Sports to justify the cost of paying 15,000 to 20,000 former players a fee for their images.

For the first five years of EA Sports Madden Football game sales (1989-1993), not even the active players were getting a share of the “Mad”den money. It wasn’t until 1993 – when the NFLPA finally got the NFL to allow the union to set up Players Inc. – that they finally began to receive money for the use of their images and marketing activities.

In exchange for their “publicity rights” the League now gives millions of dollars to the active players through its subsidiary, NFL Ventures. The active players also generate revenue through licensing agreements with businesses like EA Sports. In their LM-2 annual report covering the period March 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010, the NFLPA reported that EA Sports paid them over $31 Million for the right to use active player images. I’m sure that figure has gone up considerably over the past three years.

Now EA Sports wants to pit us against the active players in a publicity stunt to generate more money from the sale of Madden Football video games. And guess who indirectly benefits from the sale of those games? You guessed it – the active players!

In an honest competition for who should be on the cover of Madden Football to honor their 25 years of gaming, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice’s accomplishments should blow the competition out of the water. They were “real” gamers!

In fact, EA Sports should put Montana and Rice on the cover. They were the most prolific QB/WR tandem in the History of the NFL. Read this article: Jerry Rice and Joe Montana: Where would they be without each other?

Why should they have just one player on the cover?  Football is all about the “team” effort. It’s not about the individual.

Although we honor the accomplishments of some players, the fact is you need 11 to Tango. In this case 2 would be fine.  I’m not sure about Joe Montana, but Jerry Rice does a pretty mean Tango.  

I’ll make a prediction that when it comes down to the final round of voting, it will be Adrian Peterson vs. Joe Montana. The fans will probably pick Peterson, because most of the younger generation of “gamers” didn’t even know who Joe Montana was before this voting began on March 11, 2013.

I will be very surprised if an “old-school” player wins out over a “new-school” player.

If they don’t honor the former players by putting an old-school player – or two – on the cover of their Madden Football video game, than we need to boycott EA Sports and let the fans know why!

With that said, the best ways EA Sports can honor us, is by settling the Class Action lawsuit that has been filed against them for the alleged unlawful use of retired player images. Here is a link to information on that lawsuit:  NFL players target Madden in EA lawsuit.

EA Sports has already settled an alleged Monopoly lawsuit against them for $27 Million dollars.  Electronic Arts has to pay it to the class members. Guess who those members are? –  The fans who bought the Madden Football game!  

Does anyone see the irony of all this?

In closing, I just want to say that it’s time for EA Sports to settle the lawsuit with the former players they have profited from; the ones that they are now using to sell more Madden Football video games.  Send Jeff Brown, the Vice President of Corporate Communications for EA Sports an email at jbrown@ea.com and ask him and his company to do the right thing by settling the lawsuit and putting some “old school” players on the cover of the Madden Football video game.

By the way, since EA Sports is having a competition pitting us against active players, you should also know that Consumerist.com is having a competition for 2013 worst company in America and EA Sports won the competition last year. They’re a strong contender to repeat.  Let’s help them.  They just beat Facebook in the second round and they are matched up against AT&T in the next round. Make sure you go to the website link above and vote for EA Sports as the worst company in America. 

Are you ready to boycott!

Your alumni brother,

Jeff Nixon

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About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on March 29, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. donald donatelli

    thanks 4 ur work jeff

  2. Jeff, your work is always appreciated! Chris Burford Texans/Chiefs 60-67

  3. JEFF: FINALLY YOU ARE SEEING THE LIGHT, TRUTH , REALITY, AND GREED OF THE NFL/NFLPA PROPAGANDA MACHINE THAT IS RIDICULOUSLY OBCENE FOR NO GOOD REASON. NFL/NFLPA MINDSET WOULD RATHER PAY ATTORNEYS TO ARGUE THAN DOING THE RIGHT THING, ADMITTING GUILT AND LIABILITY AND TRYING TO MAKE AMENDS QUICKLY AND SIMPLY. A COUPLE OF POSITIVE MOVES TOWARDS PRE 1993 WOULD GO A LOT FARTHER FOR THEM THAN THEY REALIZE YET THEY CONTINUE TO KEEP ALL DOORS AND WINDOWS TO RECONCILIATION SLAMMED SHUT.

    RE JOHN MADDEN, JUST ONE COMMENT…..WHAT A PHONY, SELF PROMOTING PIG!! HE IS ALSO AN EX-NFL’ER NOT UNLIKE THE 1993′ERS YET HE HAS PROMOTED MONEY FOR HIMSELF OFF THE BACKSIDES OF THE GUYS HE PROFESSED TO LOVE …..PIGS GET FATTER HOGS GET SLAUGHTERED!!!!

  4. Jeff: Thanks for sending your e-mail to “AFL and NFL Alumni”. I have a mailing list of about 1,000 American Football League fans. Do you want me to ask them to vote on the EA Sports issue?

  5. Isn’t it interesting that John Madden can “..amassed a neat little empire that will only grow exceptionally as his likeness is used in perpetuity…” during a time when Gene Upshaw (NFLPA) and the League (as exposed in the Dryer case) have collected the revenue of thousands of retirees without any of it going to the actual participants.. ARE YOU READING THIS STUFF ! ! U.S. Senior District Judge Paul Magnuson? In this new age of open public forums there is a certain level of accountability which is expected. The voice of the advocate for NFL Retirees is only getting stronger.

  6. Thanks for the enlightment Jeff.
    I shall stay on top of this.. It’s about time we went after EA Sports & John Madden
    This is were the real damage has been done and the Retired Players deserve triple didgit millions in damages and future earnings.

  7. They are crazy if they think that we are going to let them get away with it Jeff. Our fight is just getting started. EA and Johnny M. are standing in the middle of a freeway and sooner or later “one of our trucks is going to run them over.”

    We are working to make ourselves an organized force every day now.

    Bob

  8. Dear Alumni:

    The Former NFL Players v. EA Sports lawsuit “complaint” indicates that there are approxomately 6,000 players that will be part of the Class Action. None of the players will need to sign up to be part of the lawsuit.

    The question is: Are you one of the approximately 6,000?

    Even the lawyers aren’t exactly sure who will be part of the lawsuit until the case is “certified” by the Judge as a Class Action. That hasn’t happened yet.

    The complaint says that any player’s likeness’ that was used in Madden Games sold between July 29, 2008 and present would automatically be part of the lawsuit. The Madden football 2009 edition contained over 140 “Historic Teams.”

    I have never bought, or played any Madden NFL Football video games, so to be quite honest with you, I don’t even know if I would be part of the lawsuit until the Court determines what former player images “likenesses” were used in the games. That would be determined during the “discovery” phase – if the case goes to trial.

    The lead plaintiff – Tony Davis was a 4th round selection (106th overall pick) out of Nebraska by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1976 NFL Draft. Davis played six seasons for the Bengals (1976–1978) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1979–1981).

    Take care,

    Jeff

  9. Jeff- Thanks so much for your continued, uncompromising diligence in keeping the rank-and-file of the NFL retirees up-to date on the real issues confronting us. Exposing EA sports for their exploitation of retirees without compensation gives new meaning to the word greed. They make billions and we get screwed. Sound familiar, brother retirees?

  10. I recently received an email from a player that just recently retired, asking me if he had a dog in this lawsuit fight against EA Sports-Madden Football.

    This what I told him:

    When we signed our player contracts, there was language in it that allowed the NFL to use our image while we were active players. You were paid an up-front royalty that allowed them to do that. When I was playing (1979-1984) there were no royalties, because the Union had not yet negotiated the establishment of Players Inc. – the marketing arm of the NFLPA. Nonetheless, now that we are retired and no longer under contract, the question is: Do they still have a right to use our image without our authorization. We think the answer is no.

    You may have the biggest dog in the fight, because the Statute of Limitations may come into play and prevent some former players – from earlier years – before 2006 from collecting any damages.

    Even if I don’t get any compensation for the unauthorized use of my image, I will still be a dog in the fight for what is right.

    Remember, it’s not the dog in the fight that wins….it’s the “fight” in the dog that wins. Let’s all stand up for the big dogs and the little dogs.

    Jeff Nixon

  11. Great article Jeff. Has Madden ever commented on any of this? Your statement: “Even if I don’t get any compensation for the unauthorized use of my image, I will still be a dog in the fight for what is right” shows how much of a caring honorable guy you are. Keep up the great work for the alumni!

  1. Pingback: Madden Football: Stop playing games with the “old school” players! | The Nixon Report

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