Football legend Brown sues EA, Sony over Madden

All-time-great NFL running back takes exception to games having historical Cleveland Browns teams with number 32 as running back.


Among other new features, this year's Madden NFL 09 features the licensed names and likenesses of some retired gridiron greats. Previously, Electronic Arts included historical teams in its games by omitting names and faces, and merely including numbers. For instance, Cleveland Browns great Jim Brown would appear on a team simply as a running back with amazing stats and the jersey number 32.

This could get ugly...
This could get ugly...

However, even having a faceless, nameless player bear his number was too much for Brown. Today, Bloomberg reported that the NFL hall-of-famer and 1970s action-film star has filed suit against Electronic Arts and Sony, alleging that they profited from his likeness and identity without his permission. According to a copy of the suit obtained by GameSpot, Brown found out earlier this year about the use of his number in Madden games, specifically Madden 2001.

Sony is named in the suit for its role in the manufacturing and distribution of the games. No mention is made of Microsoft or Nintendo, who would have played similar roles for versions of the games on their platforms.

The game included an "All Brown's Team," according to the suit, which featured "a muscular African American player wearing the number 32." Brown believes that the game infringes on his rights and acts to dilute "his inherently distinctive, and arbitrary trademark as the All-Time Great Cleveland Brown Running Back."

The suit notes that modern players sign away their likeness rights when joining the NFL player's union, but when he played, there were no video games and no union to get the rights from.

Brown asks for an injunction against EA selling the game, the forfeiture of all materials bearing his likeness, and the disgorgement of all profits earned from the sale of infringing Madden games.

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Avatar image for Gen_Warbuff

Is he freaking serious? Looks like somebody did not invest his $$ so good, now needs to sue to get some. I hope this gets tossed out.

Avatar image for Raven_DMC

I'd bet my life that not one version of ANY Madden game was ever sold because it "OMG, HAS CLEVELAND HB #32!!!". I bought the game year in and year out to play the real NFL schedules with the real NFL teams. Not to play with all-time greats (or sellouts in Brown's case) on a team full of #'d players instead of named ones. Just for this, I'm going to put Jim Brown, #32 in at every sports game I own/rent/play. Is he going to sue me next?

Avatar image for omari5

One of the fans in the stands looked like me. I WANT MY MONEY.

Avatar image for robx360

Honestly before this I was unaware of this man existing. Sounds like he is just trying to get a payday. Well buddy get your butt up and become a people greeter at wal~mart.

Avatar image for raverrozza

well he cant demand the same pay for inclusion in the game as the other players because he wasnt in it! His likeness was but how can he get paid the same as players who names, exact features and everything appeared in the game!?!? Games are full of this. look at GTA4. every vehicle takes its influences off real world cars and bikes. but they are changed just enough. what they should do is win this case. then pay big jim to use his exact likeness in the next game.... then make him the worst player in the game!!lol!

Avatar image for barJerubsheol

Get 'em Jim.

Avatar image for cachorro25

pathetic, this guys only wants some time on the spotlight.

Avatar image for DiabloRaul

Just give him like $2000 and call it a settlement.

Avatar image for Mortal_Medic

Come on now, I like 2K5 too, but can we avoid the obvious trolling. I don't even have a 360 and I have a copy in my possession. No reason to discredit things for unrelated subjects.

Avatar image for bearer2814

I highly doubt any Madden game sold so well specifically because of the inclusion of Jim Brown, who is only represented by a number on the jersey for the Cleveland Browns, and nothing else. He was not named in the game, nor was his actual likeness included. Since the player is "supposed" to be Jim Brown, though, they could give him minimal compensation. I'd say dinner at McDonald's should be fair enough. Okay, okay......dinner for TWO.

Avatar image for klugenbeel

Despite that this is dumb and Jim Brown strikes me as a moron for this, part of me hopes he wins and sticks it to EA....will show them some of the flaws for Monopolizing the NFL in football games...bring back Take2's NFL 2K series!!!!!!! SCREW EA and their NFL deal!

Avatar image for Mortal_Medic

Jedikevin2 There is a difference between what is described in the article above and what Techmo is doing. Techmo isn't going to create exact replicas of teams with the same jerseys, same numbers, same skin tones, and same abilities of all athletes in the same positions. The NFL handed EA the monopoly in that corner.

Avatar image for electro57

This is more retarded than the complaints over Resident Evil 5 developers using black zombies.

Avatar image for THizzle7XU

Apparently Nintendo and Microsoft don't make money off of Madden? Either way, Jim Brown is nothing more than a wife beater anymore. Get a life and stop living in the past.

Avatar image for daveneonfarrell

shut em down!

Avatar image for jedikevin2

Hope this fails. not because of madden but for any other game that could release who use semi fake teams with just peoples numbers etc. "New techmo bowl game is a example"

Avatar image for ajw4pc

Is it me or is this lawsuit like 7 years to late.

Avatar image for Khoo1992

Just sony and EA?

Avatar image for kiaba13

Wow... that is retarded. Sure, some compensation is entailed, but he is asking for everything and that is just ridiculous.

Avatar image for GoddBless

I understand what he's saying. It's like in the old NBA Live when they had a bald-headed guy named player at #24. We all knew that was supposed to be Michael Jordan but at least they made it different enough. With Madden you knew who the people were by the number. It's not like Madden 01' had faces for each player, they were generic anyway. They should have just gave the legend teams all random numbers like NCAA does.

Avatar image for Sins-of-Mosin

Wow, I havnt heard his name in a very long time. Maybe if he would've stayed in football instead of being a sellout to hollywood, we'd actually care about his little PR stunt.

Avatar image for markharris31

Absurd. The only thing he could possibly ask for is compensation equal to that of other players for the years in which he was allegedly included in the game. He wants ALL of the profits associated with any Madden game that allegedly uses his likeness? Nope, sorry. You didn't write the program, do the art, do the marketing, do the publishing, etc etc. His involvement in the game is, at best, extremely minimal. If he wants compensation equal to that of other players over the same period in which he was "in the game" then I'll support that. Anything is ridiculous.

Avatar image for Space_Lion

wait, why isn't Microsoft mentioned?

Avatar image for monco59

Looks like someone's running out of money and needs to find an alternative cash flow fast...

Avatar image for jcloverboy

this is one case where I'd side with Brown. We all knew it was him. If he is not compensated accordingly he has every right to be upset.

Avatar image for GolgoThirteen

@olschooldu2 If EA and Sony had made millions of dollars in profit off of your likeness without your permission, would you not want your share of the profits?

Avatar image for Mortal_Medic

Is there a real reason he shouldn't get his money? Do people enjoy seeing others not earn what they should? Is someone profiting from others misfortunes a good thing? Do some people touch themselves at night to the knowledge that someone in the world isn't getting their share of the pie? This is no different then making a character that looks like Batman with similar abilities in City of Heroes but renaming him "Crimefighter". If you gamers know your history, you will know the result of that problem. Thus he deserves his money.

Avatar image for olschooldu2

I was born within the last few years of Jim Browns career and although I don't remember watching him play, he was on of if not THE toughest running back ever to play the game and he is a True Legend of the sport. He is a man who takes a lot of pride in his accomplishments and everything he had to go through just to play football, especially during the late 50's and 60's. But Mr. Brown, as big a fan as I am for what you did for the sport and paving the way for other athletes, I totally disagree with this frivolous lawsuit that'll never get off the ground. Just sit back and enjoy the time you have left and be thankful that even after all these years, you're still remembered and even included as one of the 'Greatest'.

Avatar image for YoJim8obaJoe

Im going to sue the makers of speed 2,the main character stole my name and action hero abilities

Avatar image for rahl247

what friggen moron i mean its a friggen number in a game. he just brought greedyness to another level. hell i did not even know he wore 32 for the browns.

Avatar image for lamplan

Anything to take EA down a notch would be wildly pleasant regarding their sports monopoly. Good luck JB.. You'll need it.

Avatar image for V-r0cK

I didnt know much of Jim Brown before but now he's made a name for himself that ill be sure to remember, as the @$$ that sued EA and poor Sony. There are other companies that does these type of things yet the players dont sue them. Like a african bball player with a red jersey wearing 23, or a white person wearing a white hockey jersey wearing 99. etc. But i guess Brown needed to do this because he doesnt have as much money as #23 or #99 who shall not be named lol

Avatar image for adamska_br

So, uh, this guy wants them to stop selling Madden over a faceless character? Not a very smart move...

Avatar image for SkillGamer

wow clevland brown is a retart just becuz it didint have his name but had his number on jersey he sues them what cry baby!

Avatar image for football_legend

HOLY ****, the headline scared the crap out of me. LMAO!!!

Avatar image for chaoscougar1

:| is he joking? this is a poor attempt at either publicity or money, respect is slowly going down hill...

Avatar image for nintendoboy16

What does Sony have to do with this? They didn't develop this Madden. EA made the Madden series not Sony. And Sony only manufactures the game just because EA works with Sony for their playstations for their games, they shouldn't be involved. Leave Sony out of this, Brown.

Avatar image for revyrevwu

You have a franchise that is making millions of dollars off your ability and likeness, and didn't get 1 cent. Where current players get compensated for this game because they are in the union. Jim, "SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!" Sue them for every penny, nickle, and dime you can get from EA. They don't care about you and any of the legends of football. If EA wants legends in their game then they should go about this the right way by compensating these guys. EA is wrong because all they care about is creating another selling point for their game while dumping on the pioneers and greats of Football. If they want the legends then do the ethical/right thing by signing them with individual contracts.

Avatar image for Colsworl

This guy is an ass, I have lost a lot of respect for the guy. Also why is he sueing Sony and not Nintendo and Microsoft as well? They are all in the exact same position.

Avatar image for DontEatCream

Greedy bastard.

Avatar image for Vambran

Sue EA. Seems like a good thing to me. More people should do it and run them into the ground.

Avatar image for samdonni

What a ****

Avatar image for raverrozza

c tifer very bright actually. i just think its bull sueing over a likeness that frankly can be argued circumstantial in every respect. how many black muscular running backs are there? i guess quite alot and i know nothing about american futball. and basing it all on a number. now i suppose it might count for something if the number has been retired with the player but since even the team isnt named that cant count for sugar anyway. Plus des this mean New York can sue rockstar and microsoft because they use an obvious likeness to the city in GTA? no i dont think so. In fact im going to sue rockstar cos I was playing GTA4 an saw a guy who looked like me wearing a red hoody! I own a red hoody!! PFFFTTT!

Avatar image for TheSystemLord1

Players didn't make millions of dollars when he played either. He ran out of money and now wants the profits. Smooth.

Avatar image for TXMostWanted

If he wins, I'm so gonna sue them too because I found like fifteen likenesses of me in the bajillion Madden games there are, ya prick

Avatar image for kkee

This will go know where fast. Firstly, an animated character with no name or face, but the same number isn't enough to prove it is him. PES has always had similar names and faces (e.g. Beckham was changed to Backham), but nobody has been stupid enough to start a lawsuit. Second, it's discrimination to only sue Sony as a manufacturer, when Microsoft and Nintendo did the same thing. Third, what has the manufacturer got to do with it. IF any blame is to be placed, it is all on EA as developer and publisher. Basically this is some retired pro trying to make a quick buck.

Avatar image for Squeets

How did he not notice until 7 years after it was released?

Avatar image for Henninger

I feel that Jim Brown made a good point. Y r the older players not getting anything 4 their likeness? Yea no name & face so what? Its still his # & u built the model after him so yea its him. If they had a different # he'd have no case what-so-ever. I also understand where the people complaning about him & his lawsuit r coming from 2 but i feel he should get something. & from now on EA should just do away with the older teams anywayz just have the ones that were in the players union. All the 1's that weren't shouldn't b used.