NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former Green Bay Packers running back filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Football League, claiming it made unauthorized use of retired players’ images to promote the league and generate revenue.
The lawsuit by Darrell Thompson, Green Bay’s first-round draft pick in 1990, comes as the NFL and its players are in New York trying to resolve a lockout that has been dragging on for over four months.
“For years, Defendant (the NFL) has earned substantial revenue by making promotional films and selling products featuring the identities of retired NFL football players,” Thompson said in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. federal court in Minnesota.
“The retired players who created (the NFL‘s) glory days, however, have gone almost completely uncompensated for this use of their identities.”
Thompson, who played for the Packers from 1990-1994, said the practice violated a federal trademark act and asked for an injunction against the practice and all damages allowed by law.
An NFL spokesman said on Thursday the league had no comment on Thompson’s filing.
Last week a group of retired players filed a complaint that said the league and NFL Players Association “are conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former NFL players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current NFL players.”
Retiree benefits are one of the sticking points as the league and its players work to resolve their dispute before it affects the preseason.
NFL Alumni Association Executive Director George Martin asked in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on Thursday that former players not be forgotten in the talks.
“As you strive toward resolution, I strongly urge both of you to remember the men who laid the foundation for the game’s present-day success, seize the tremendous opportunity substantially improve the quality of life for all alumni,” Martin said.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue