Throughout the discovery phase of the retired players case against the NFLPA and Players Inc. many documents have been uncovered which show that Players Inc. improperly represented approximately 2,100 retired NFL players who signed group licensing agreements. One document in particular has received little media attention but may be one of the most revealing pieces of evidence in the case.
The document is an e-mail chain between Lashun Lawson of Players Inc. and employees of Electronic Arts. Lawson was in charge of video game licensing at Players Inc. for ten years before leaving to take a position at AOL. Electronic Arts(EA) is the creator of the Madden NFL video game franchise.
The first e-mail from Electronic Arts to Players Inc. states,
“I know that Players INC doesn’t want us to include any retired players ‘in the game'”
Later in the e-mail chain, in a message between Electronic Arts employees, it is stated that despite EA’s attempts to use retired players in the Madden video game, Players Inc. instructed them not to do so.
“They(Players Inc.) said ‘no’ to this despite my attempts to convince them otherwise. They have taken a hard line on no retired players in the game in any form.”
A copy of the e-mail chain may be viewed by clicking HERE.
Players were told earlier that, “Players Inc. licensees such as EA Sports are permitted to secure retired NFL player rights only from Players Inc, not from any other source, contrary to what others may have told you. This offer will be your only opportunity to participate in NFL player video games and get paid.“