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DIGNITY AFTER FOOTBALL REPORTS:
A LETTER FROM JEFF NIXON, NOV. 2008
NFL RETIRED PLAYERS UNITED
Dear Retired Players:
When the NFLPA started sending out GLA (Group Licensing Authorization) forms for retired players back in 2000, the concept behind it was good. It gave the NFLPA the right to market us and grant the use of our "image" to a licensee who would then use it in conjunction with, or on products sold at retail or used as promotional or premium items. The best example of this is the John Madden Football video game that is sold by EA Sports.
The players that actually generated the revenue would receive half the money and the other half would be put into an escrow account that would, at some point, be equally shared with all players that signed GLA's. This type of payment system recognized that all retired players contributed to the success of the sport.
This same revenue sharing policy is currently utilized by all active players. It doesn't matter if you are a perennial benchwarmer, or the MVP of the NFL, all active players get a check for the same amount of money.
It is important to understand that this policy does not prevent active players or retired players from entering into other ad hoc type agreements with the NFLPA or companies that want five or less players included in their product or marketing venture. In other words, if Peyton Manning or Terry Bradshaw want to do a commercial for a car company then they would receive all the money…..and that's the way it should be.
Obviously, the revenue generating capacity of current superstar players and Hall of Fame players is greater than that of most players both active and retired, but all of them would acknowledge that football is a team sport and that their achievements on the field could only be made possible by the hard work and contributions of their teammates.
When the NFLPA first issued the GLA's, I thought that they were finally recognizing this fact. Unfortunately, they did not follow through with their end of the agreement.
One of their excuses was that most retired players are unmarketable. As most of you know, Gene Upshaw made the following statement "We could have the greatest dog food in the world, but if the dogs don't like it, we can't sell it. Put that at the top of the story."
As I mentioned in a prior posting, "If you have the greatest dog food in the world and you can't sell it, then you don't have a problem with the product, you have a problem with your Marketing and Sales Department!"
One important thing we discovered as a result of the Class Action lawsuit was this……There is a demand for retired players.
What we desperately need is a marketing and sales department that is working for us and not against us. The NFLPA is not issuing any GLA's as a result of the class action suit. If they are no longer interested in marketing us then maybe we need to find a new agent!
Believe it or not, the NFL Owners may be interested in marketing and selling us! If they know that they can make some money using retired players, they would be crazy not to do it. Let's face it, they already own the exclusive right to market our image by selling vhs tapes and dvd's of football games. Just go to the NFL Films website
and you can find hundreds of NFL vhs tapes and dvd's selling for $50 a pop. Unfortunately, we are not receiving any royalties from the sale of these tapes. That could change if retired players worked a deal with NFL Properties to become the exclusive agent for marketing and selling retired player products, services and other promotional items.
Keep in mind the NFL already tried to do this with active players. The league offered money to individual players to abandon the NFLPA and appoint NFL Properties as their exclusive licensing agent. From 1990-92, NFL Properties spent in excess of $30 million in direct payments to players for group licensing rights, obviously hoping to steal enough players so that the NFLPA would not have a sufficient number of recognizable players to attract licensees.
There are other groups and organizations that could also provide licensing agreements, but in order for them to be viable they would need to convince the Hall of Fame Players and a majority of retired players to sign GLA's. It would be ideal if they kept all retired player's interests in mind. Does this mean that a retired player with only 2 years of NFL experience and 8 starts should get the same royalty payment as a 10 year Hall of Fame player? No, but a system should be devised that rewards players based on a standard set of criteria.
If the NFLPA will not market retired players, then we need to take action soon to make sure that someone does.
"Marketing is not an event, but a process . . . It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely." - Jay Conrad Levinson
Buffalo Bills Alumnus
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