This article on FOX Sports raises some interesting questions concerning the possibility of John Madden’s responsibility to speak out on behalf of his former colleagues and players who won a class action lawsuit last week against EA, maker of the popular “Madden NFL” game. It also raises the spectre of Madden’s obligation to do so, given that the game carries Madden’s namesake and the profits Madden enjoys from the game. One question that remains to be answered, and may never be, is whether Madden had any knowledge of the players union instructing EA to “scramble” the identities of the retired players in order to avoid the legal obligation to pay the retired players for inclusion in the game. I’m not going to give my personal opinions on these issues, although as this article notes, past instances involving Kathie Lee Gifford and Michael Jordan have also circled back around to the personality whose name is on the product.
As one of the top selling video games of all time, and with $3.6 billion in revenue last year, one would think EA and the union might have opted to pay the retired players to be included in the game. Because authenticity is an important component in game programming, the game would have been all the better for for the capability to play the actual name players. Perhaps that is something for all parties to consider going forward, in the hope that a peaceful resolution can be reached for future versions of the game.