So far, a Minnesota judge has ruled against former Los Angeles Rams defensive end Fred Dryer, former Houston Oilers defensive end Elvin Bethea and former Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Ed White.
The former NFL players’ lawsuit came on the heels of college athletes looking to get compensation from the NCAA and colleges for using their images on TV, in video games, and with other merchandising deals.
The crux of the plaintiffs’ argument? Using their images enhance the NFL’s brand, as in “advertising.” In theory, that means added dollar value.
Experts say the presiding judge looked to balance the plaintiffs’ argument with the NFL’s “free speech” explanation. Ultimately, the judge ruled that the NFL has the right to exploit "copyrighted game footage in expressive works such as the NFL Films productions at issue here.”
Former professional athletes are obviously different from college athletes -- they have already been paid for their on-field services. But apparently, in the world of everything fractionalizing in the media, all present, future -- and past -- monetary considerations are now on the table.
It turns out that any on-screen talent wants to be paid, no matter how brief the duration of the appearance. For example, while TV “reality” stars already get some paydays depending on the size of their “roles,” networks and producers hope their screen time will yield its own publicity and marketing value.
You can be sure the NFL and NCAA want to highlight that there’s plenty of this kind of “value” -- but not necessarily cash -- around for everyone.