Former Cowboy Great Claims Union Sacking Old Pros' Licensing Fees

Categories: Sports
Herb Adderley, a former Cowboys great, is suing the players' union for licensing fees.

Herb Adderley's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Green Bay Packer; appropriate, as he was the Packers' first-round draft pick in 1961. But he ended his career as a Dallas Cowboy, playing cornerback for Tom Landry's team from 1970 till Adderley's retirement in 1972. We mention him this morning because Adderley and Bernie Parrish, a former Cleveland Browns defensie back, on Wednesday brought a federal class-action lawsuit against the mighty the National Football League Players Association, claiming they and some 3,500 other former pro footballers are being shorted on royalties the union collects from licensees, among them clothing manufacturers and video-game companies.

See, the NFLPA has its own licensing subsidiary called Players Inc., which, it says on its Web site, is the union's "for-profit licensing, marketing, sponsorship and content development subsidiary." It's been around for 13 years and says it "'represents more than 1,800 active players and over 3,500 retired players." So why, then, ask Adderley and Parrish in their lawsuit, did Players Inc. pay out licensing revenue to only 358 players during 2005? The lawsuit alleges that the union owes former pro football players millions and millions in licensing revenue, which the NFLPA's executive director, Gene Upshaw, vehemently denies. --Robert Wilonsky

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