The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the NFL’s request 9-0 in the American Needle case that it be considered 32 separate teams and not a single entity when it comes to licensing its property. Basically, the NFL was trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that whether as a whole, or its 32 separate entities, they were the NFL and are protected under anti-trust rules. America Needle lost a contract to make caps for the NFL when the NFL signed an exclusive agreement with Reebok several years ago (sound familiar NFL 2K
What this means for gamers is that the NFL, EA and their exclusive license for the Madden
series just took a blindside hit that may end up forcing the league to open the door to other developers to license the NFL players, teams, stadiums and logos. If not as a whole, a company like Take Two Interactive and its 2K Sports brand could theoretically negotiate with any of the 32 NFL clubs, the NFLPA or an individual player to license the “brand”. Does anyone think that Jerry Jones wouldn’t sell his
Dallas Cowboys logo and Cowboys Stadium brand to 2K to create an "America’s Team" football game?
Would this happen? Probably not. Most gamers would want all the NFL teams, players, stadiums and experience or none of it. However, the door is now open and it will be interesting to see how 2K and other companies respond now that the case was kicked backed to the lower courts. Keep an eye on this folks, as this could, and probably should, impact the biggest annual sports title in gaming.