A former NFL player has written an open letter to John Madden, calling for his support in a class action lawsuit on behalf of retired players while highlighting the hardball tactics employed by EA to push 2K Sports out of the football game.
Jeff Nixon, a free safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979 to 1984, penned the appeal in support of the Retired Players Class Action Suit against the National Football League Players Association and its marketing division, Players Inc. In it, he claims that instead of representing the interests of retired players, NFLPA executives provided a sweetheart deal to Electronic Arts which was “significantly below market rate.” According to an email from NFLPA COO Andrew Feffer to Paul Cairns of EA Sports, the NFLPA negotiated a deal for EA that was less than half what it would have been without their “involvement and assistance.”
While it’s unfortunate that Players Association executives are apparently working against the very people they’re supposed to represent, of greater interest to gamers is the impact this deal apparently had on 2K Sports, which found itself muscled out of the NFL videogame business. An internal email written by the NFLPA’s Clay Walker takes credit for making the deal for the Hall of Fame player rights, and adds, “EA owes me a huge favor because of that threat was enough to persuade Take Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there.”
As it turns out, Take-Two’s departure from the scene was not only bad for gamers, but also for the football players themselves, according to another email from Players Inc. attorney Joe Nahra. “We definitely aren’t going to require you to pay an additional price unless you choose to add players that didn’t sign off on the original deal. You have the existing HOF [Hall of Fame] players that responded to our letter for several years with no increase in cost,” he wrote. “The per player price for most of these guys was tens of thousands of dollars less than what they were guaranteed by Take Two Interactive so it’s a real coup that we were able to pull this off so cheaply.”
“You have to remember that EA’s total cost is only $200,000 per year,” he continued. “We know that Take Two offered six figure deals to several former NFL players so the total cost is millions below market prices. That being said, we’ll continue to go after the new inductees for the same price per player (around $2500) and I think we’ll be successful.”