I have long been irritated that Maddens doesn’t include the retired players on their rosters of classic teams. And, as is so often the case with unions, it turns out that the reason is due to union leadership failing to dutifully represent the interests it is charged with representing.
Basically, Judge Alsup found that the plaintiffs introduced sufficient evidence to support a finding by the jury that the NFLPA acquired a “fiduciary” duty to take steps to market the likenesses and names, and that the NFLPA (for whatever reason) failed to do it.
Most importantly (and most troubling), the evidence supported in Judge Alsup’s view a finding that the NFLPA gobbled up the retired players’ marketing rights so that the NFLPA wouldn’t have to compete with the retired players’ likenesses and names while trying to get top dollar for the active players. In other words, the jury found that the NFLPA acquired the rights of these potential competitors to likenesses and names of the active players, only to bury the rights to the likenesses and names of the retired players in the back yard.
If true (and the jury found that it is), it’s shameful, and despicable. The jury essentially found that, under the guise of helping retired players, the NFLPA screwed them, making no effort to market the rights to their likenesses and names in order to preserve the millions and millions that were being generated by the marketing of the rights to the likenesses and names of active players.
While the NFLPA has served the NFL players very well in many regards and wisely views itself as a partner of the league owners rather than an adversary, the two areas it has really fallen down is representing the interests of past players in general and the interests of veteran players relative to agents of rookie players. It is insane that a few elite agents are able to hold the interests of the owners, the veteran players, and the competitive quality of the league itself hostage. And while Mike Florio is rivalled only by Joe Buck in his eagerness to strike an outraged moral pose about almost anything, the NFLPA’s callous treatment of retired players is, for once, every bit as awful as he paints it.