Former NFL Player’s Inc. Director calls most retired players unmarketable
On February 17, 2011 Doug Allen, former assistant executive director of the NFLPA and former president of Players Inc. responded to a Sports Business Journal article entitled: NFL Alumni hires 16W to create licensing program.
His article slipped under my radar, but with the new controversy over the $15 million in deferred compensation that Gene Upshaw’s estate is fighting over, I found it on a search of NFL Players – the marketing arm of the Union.
In the article (attached below my comments), Doug Allen confirms that he and Gene Upshaw thought most former players had little marketing value to the NFLPA and its money making machine at Players Inc.
If that was true, then why did they ask all retired players to sign Group Licensing Agreements? And why did a Judge and a jury find them negligent and award 28.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages? The judge said the NFLPA had failed miserably in their effort to market retired players.
It is sad to know that when the NFLPA had the opportunity to market a considerable number of players in the EA Madden Video game, they told EA to scramble the images as a way of avoiding the payment of royalties to retired players.
The one thing that Doug Allen fails to mention in his article is that the Group Licensing Agreement specifically said “The moneys generated by such licensing of retired player group rights will be divided between the player and an escrow account for all eligible NFLPA members who have signed a group licensing authorization form.”
As you all know, they never divided the money and put it in an escrow account to be equally divided among all the retired players that signed GLA’s.
After losing the class action lawsuit, the NFLPA dropped the GLA program for retired players and farmed it out to the School of the Legends.
It is important to know that just like his predecessor, DeMaurice Smith is the Chairman of NFL Players Inc. – and as such, he has the power to “giveth and taketh away.”
Don’t you dare speak out against the NFLPA, or you might find yourself like Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure – blackballed from the Players Inc. country club. Here is an article I wrote about this issue back on June 9, 2010: NFL Players Inc paid 13.89 million to 150 former NFL players from 2002-07
The NFL, through its subsidiary – NFL Ventures, pays the NFLPA and active players about $44 million annually to market their images to the public. They all split the money equally. A player could be a perennial benchwarmer, or the Super Bowl winning QB. It doesn’t matter, they all get the same amount. That’s teamwork. That’s fair. That’s something the NFL Alumni needs to think about when they craft their GLA’s.
Doug Allen doesn’t believe that many of the Hall of Fame, or high profile players would be interested in sharing any of their royalties with the “average” player……and maybe he’s right!
All I know is that Joe “D” said he would do it. That’s because Joe knows that it takes teamwork to get the job done and he’s not going to abandon his former teammates now that his playing days are over. Like a good soldier, he believes in the creed “leave no man behind”.
I look forward to the day when the NFL Alumni starts implementing group licensing agreements with all of its members. If the NFL can give the NFLPA and 1,800 active players $44 million annually to market them, shouldn’t they at least throw us a bone?
We may not have the earning potential of a Hall of Fame player, but we are not “dog food” either. Most of us have been good ambassadors for the NFL; working in our local communities via our NFLPA and NFL Alumni Chapters. We are marketing the NFL to all generations of fans and for the most part, we are doing it for free.
Like most players, I have too much dignity to beg like a dog, but as they say over at ESPN – C’mon Man!
If the NFL Alumni wants to see a surge in its membership, they need to make sure that NFL Alumni “members” are eligible to sign a GLA and they need to push the NFL to commit to providing our organization with at least one tenth of the money they do for the active players. That would be about 4.4 million annually. If we split it evenly like the active players do, we would all get a nice little dividend at the end of the year.
But that’s just the beginning! There are many revenue generating ideas out there. Just ask Joe DeLamielleure. He was the one that brought Stoneacre to the attention of the NFL Alumni. That company has now partnered with the NFL Alumni and will be working on increasing our fan-base and revenues. Look at what they are doing for ONMC (Official NASCAR Member Club). Let’s hope they can do the same for our organization.
Bottom line: Retired players are marketable, we just need people that are effectively marketing us……..not people like Doug Allen who took the money and ran!
Here is Doug Allen’s article:
Marketing interest not equal for all NFL retirees – Doug Allen
An article on the new relationship between 16W and NFL Alumni [SportsBusiness Journal, Jan. 24-30] mischaracterizes my testimony in the Parrish case. I agree with George Martin that a vibrant market exists for retired players, but only for some players. An undisputed fact in the Parrish case, which my testimony supported, is that NFL Players (formerly Players Inc) paid millions of dollars to hundreds of retired players over the years in question in the suit. In fact, each of the hundreds of retired players whose names and images were provided by Players Inc to a licensee was paid by Players Inc. Companies were then, and are now, willing to pay for the right to use hundreds of well-known and marketable former players such as Joe Namath or Jim Brown, but they were then, and are now, much less interested in using the thousands of average retired players who are relatively anonymous. What companies did not do then, and do not want to do now, is pay extra for the opportunity to access all retired players.
The model is different for active players who receive much of their licensing compensation on an equal share basis (in direct payment to the players and in payment to the NFLPA to fund its operations). Why? Because licensees never know when an unheralded late-round draft choice will get hot during the season and be instantly in demand in the marketplace. Or when a team not expected to do well will suddenly catch fire and be in contention for the Super Bowl. So licensees pay guarantees and royalties to NFL Players for the right to use all active players on the roster, to protect themselves in the marketplace and to meet the demands of consumers. Licensees don’t have that problem with retired players. They know that Doug Allen will never be famous or marketable like Namath or Brown. What they told us when I represented Players Inc was that, while they appreciated the opportunity to use all retired players, since they didn’t need most of them, Players Inc should pay for their availability out of existing royalties. That would have required taking money from active players, and from well-known and marketable retired players, to pay to thousands of retired players who were not marketable and were not used by licensees.
Despite some public comments to the contrary, most marketable retired players were not willing to share with all retired players, what, for many, was their main source of income. And active players were already using their leverage to get increases in benefits for retired players and were paying for a fully staffed NFLPA retired players department and benefits department out of active player licensing proceeds.
While I believe that the decision in the Parrish case would have been overturned on appeal, I understand De Smith’s decision to settle the matter to help unite retired and active players. I wish anyone representing retired players in the licensing and appearance marketplace great success, but, because I understand the realities of that marketplace and my place in it, I won’t be surprised or disappointed if I am not one of the retired players utilized by licensees.
Bal Harbour, Fla