Posted by Will Brinson
As the league locked out the players Friday night, we listed seven important questions that fans should ask for the coming months. One thing we forgot to mention (and/or debate) was the state of endorsements for NFL players. As most folks know, they're marketed as a group and typically lined up with "league sponsors" in groups.
That's not the case anymore, however, and as the Sports Business Journal's Liz Mullen reports , NFL PLAYERS -- the license and marketing arm of the trade association formerly known as the NFLPA -- is looking for new sponsors with which "to align themselves."
"The NFL failed to renew, extend, or otherwise provide these rights for sponsors," Keith Gordon, NFL PLAYERS president, told Mullen.
And, as a result, NFL PLAYERS "is now actively engaging with non-NFL sponsors who seek to align themselves," Gordon said.
Think like, say ... beauty products.
Here's the interesting thing about how this works: though the players union decertified, the NFLPA still exists. (After all, it's an "Association" made up of "Players," even with the recent decertification.) So it will provide legal support for the players and, apparently, continue to market the players as well.
One thought that crossed my mind was the possibility that EA Sports' Madden franchise could face problems that baseball video games dealt with in the past with respect to individual licensing. (Perhaps you remember Giants slugger "Joe Young" from back in the day?) Well, that won't be the case here.
"No, the status [of the union] doesn't impact our business," Gordon told CBSSports.com.
This is because all individual players ink a Group Licensing Agreement ("GLA") that they "really can't opt" of in the event of something like decertification.
So, Madden's safe (though Gordon did point out that roster updates could be a bit slow to come through if the season is delayed), and there's no reason to think the players will be doing anything other than trying to work positively with current sponsors, given their no-paycheck-at-the-day-job situation.
What will be interesting to see is how Gordon and NFL PLAYERS approach "non-NFL sponsors." And if you're wondering what exactly constitutes such an endorsement, Gordon's description to me -- he called them "categories where we've not been engaged" -- is the best way to describe it.
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