Brian Urlacher has not had a good week.
Would you want to be the one to tell Brian Urlacher you were voiding his autograph contract?
Dreams, Inc. apparently did…through legal channels anyway. It’s a story illustrating the sometimes cutthroat world of paid autograph signings.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Urlacher’s four-year, $1.1 million contract to sign autographs for the company was terminated on Tuesday–just two days after he suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Now, the Bears’ hard-nosed linebacker is suing for the remainder of the money–believed to be about $600,000. Urlacher’s attorneys claim the memorabilia agent is trying to "wiggle out" of the deal.
According to the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court by Urlacher’s attorneys, Dreams exercised a clause in the contract that allowed it to end its agreement with Urlacher if he was out of action for 16 or more weeks or suffered a career-ending injury. The NFL regular season lasts 17 weeks–and 16 games. Urlacher had surgery on his wrist, which was dislocated in Sunday night’s game at Green Bay. While he’s expected to miss the remainder of the 2009 season, the injury is not believed to be career-ending.
One Dreams-owned website, ProSportsMemorabilia.com, sells Urlacher autographs in a wide range of prices, including $329 for a signed football, $215 for an autographed helmet and $150 for a plain 8×10 autographed photo. It’s not known how much the company pays Urlacher for each signature, but a likely range would be $50-75 each. Dreams, Inc also owns Field of Dreams stores across the nation, along with Mounted Memories, Schwartz Sports, and FansEdge.
The suit seeks the remainder of the money in his contract, plus unspecified damages and court costs. Urlacher signed with Dreams in 2007 and his contract was to run until 2011 according to the documents obtained by the newspaper.