The Upper Deck Company owes 229 current and former NFL players more than $1.25 million for autographs and photos according to a breach of contract lawsuit filed by the NFL Players Association this month.
The players’ association says the trading card manufacturer has admitted it can’t pay the royalties it agreed to give out when Upper Deck had a license to produce football cards. The amounts claimed vary widely–from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Among the players owed money according to the lawsuit are Peyton Manning ($32,100), Tony Romo ($180,000), Tim Tebow ($84,000) and Sam Bradford ($71,960). Some of the money was earmarked for charities designated by the players in their agreements with Upper Deck.
The lawsuit, filed in New York County Court and first reported by Courthouse News, also says Upper Deck owes money to the NFLPA and NFL Players Incorporated as part of the licensing agreements it signed in 2009 and 2010. The player agreements are in tandem with the card maker’s overall deal with the organizations.
Other well known players Upper Deck owes according to the mammoth 287-page court filing include Eli Manning, Adrian Peterson, Chris Brown, Ndamukong Suh, Percy Harvin, Rob Gronkowski, Drew Brees, Mario Williams, Dez Bryant, Greg Jennings, Jason Pierre-Paul, A.J. Hawk, DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, and Colt McCoy. Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Jack Lambert are owed money for the use of photographs, according to the suit.
The last few years haven’t been pleasant for Upper Deck, which lost MLB, NFL and NBA licenses and was forced to trim staff, was hit with a counterfeiting lawsuit from Konami Entertainment and is now facing allegations that company president Richard McWilliam showed up drunk to a court deposition in another suit filed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The NFL Players lawsuit comes two years after Upper Deck agreed to pay $3.06 million to Major League Baseball on a payment plan over a debt from the last year of its MLB partnership in 2009 and just three weeks after Major League Baseball Properties sued the company, claiming it was still due more than $265,000 under terms of a settlement reached between the two in 2010.
The NFLPA lawsuit claims Upper Deck tried at first to negotiate a payment plan over the outstanding debt because of its “financial situation” but that the Association “gave up hope that Upper Deck would honor its contractual commitments” and decided to air its grievances in court.