During the lockout, players are looking for ways to generate revenue. Chargers safety Eric Weddle has turned to the legal system in search of some extra walking-around money.
Agent David Canter forwarded to PFT last night a press release explaining that, on Tuesday, Weddle filed a “multi-million dollar lawsuit” against Bayer AG, Bayer USA, and Athlon sports for various claims arising from the use of Weddle’s image on boxes of Alka-Seltzer.
“Part of this national marketing campaign was to place an image of our client Eric Weddle from when he was an All-American football player at the University of Utah on Bayer’s Alka-Seltzer antacid boxes,” the statement asserts. “These boxes appeared throughout the United States at various Wal-Mart’s, Walgreens, CVS’s, supermarkets, and local pharmacies. Additionally, the defendants used this same image of Eric to advertise and promote Athlon Sports’ college football preview magazine. Though this campaign never identified Eric throughout any advertisements, it was clear from the photo in question, that the image used was of Weddle, bearing the number 32 worn during his collegiate playing days at Utah. It is the same jersey number that Eric has worn for his entire NFL playing career.
“At no time were Bayer AG, Bayer USA, nor Athlon Sports authorized to use this image for commercial purposes. Eventually Eric was left with no other recourse but to file this complaint in the Southern District of California.”
Weddle, through Canter, had sent a letter to Bayer and Athlon demanding that the items bearing Weddle’s likeness be removed from stores. Apparently, they weren’t.
Regardless of how it all turns out, it’s another example of the ongoing tension between college athletes and NCAA sports programs. If, as we assume, the materials displayed the Utah logo, Utah presumably was compensated.
That said, there’s a good chance that Weddle signed over to Utah the ability to use his likeness without compensation.
We’ll dig into this one some more, in large part because the only other story options at this point are lockout or draft.