The NFL Players Association is facing a class-action lawsuit from retired players, and NFLPA licensee Electronic Arts is on the sidelines as the two groups square off in court.
A group of former NFLers is suing the players association over licensing deals it made, specifically an agreement with EA Sports to include Hall of Famers in the Madden series of games. According to a post on the NFL Retired Players United blog (as spotted by GamePolitics), e-mails from NFLPA representatives turned up evidence that the union made a sweetheart deal with EA that cost Hall of Fame players royalty revenue.
The blog posts an excerpt from one e-mail to an attorney at the union's Players Inc. marketing arm, in which NFLPA executive Clay Walker talks about securing a number of player rights for less than market value.
"The per player price for most of these guys was tens of thousands of dollars less than what they were guaranteed by Take Two Interactive so it's a real coup that we were able to pull this off so cheaply," the e-mail read. "You have to remember that EA's total cost is only $200,000 per year. We know that Take Two offered six-figure deals to several former NFL players so the total cost is millions below market prices."
In another e-mail supposedly from Walker, the executive says EA owes him "a huge favor" because a deal struck with the Hall of Fame "was enough to persuade Take-Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there."
While Electronic Arts has an exclusive license to make NFL games, Take-Two last year attempted to launch a new series with All-Pro Football 2K8. The game sought to make up for the lack of the NFL license by including the names and likenesses of hundreds of retired gridiron legends. However, after the first installment met with lukewarm reviews and sluggish sales, the All-Pro series was benched.