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EA will offer 11,000 college football players $600 each for video game NIL rights

If it’s in the game, it’s in the game. And EA is now in the NIL game.

Because it has no way to avoid it.

Via Jason Wilson of Sports Business Journal, EA will offer $600 to 11,000 college football players for their name, image, and likeness rights in the upcoming return of its college football video game. They also will get a free copy of the game for their preferred platform.

EA plans “ambassador” offers to other players in the future. Possibly, those who both say “no thanks” in response to the $600 offer and who are deemed sufficiently important to ensure the game’s accuracy and authenticity.

Last year, the College Football Players Association urged players to reject the offer, which at the time was believed to be in the range of $500 at the time.

All current players should boycott this deal,” CFBPA vice president Justin Falcinell said in June 2023. “It is an opt-in deal, and they should not opt into it. It is just a ridiculously low amount of money, given the context and the hype that surrounds this game. When we first heard the number, we’re like, ‘Alright, that sounds low. Let’s go figure out if it is low.’ And started talking to guys, talked to some of my friends, some guys who are still playing in the NFL. ‘So, what are NFL players getting paid for Madden?’ And the numbers we were given were from 2019, it was disclosed that they got, I think, about $17,000. And then a current NFL player told us that he got a check for $28,000 this year for Madden. . . . You should not participate in this. It is a simple cash grab to just try to get you for the lowest amount possible.”

EA dropped the college football game due in large part to liability concerns arising from potential infringement on player likenesses, which (as the NCAA learned in the Ed O’Bannon case) cannot be used without compensation. The current NIL landscape in many respects traces to the landmark O’Bannon case.

So EA realizes it has to pay something for player names, images, and likenesses. And EA is hoping to pay as little as possible.

Really, what’s $600? EA is banking on players viewing it as free money, without realizing how badly EA needs enough of them to accept the payment for the game to be viable.

EA has already announced that the game is coming. It will be very hard to pull the plug now.

Kids, they need you much more than you need them. And your rights are worth much more than $600 each.

EA has a market capitalization, as of this month, of more than $37 billion. It has budgeted a mere $6.6 million to gobble up the bulk of the player NIL rights.

We stand with the CFBPA. Tell EA No F—kin’ Way. Spread the word. Hold together. They hope to divide and conquer by getting enough of you to take the cash (and the free game!) without thinking twice. If enough of you stop and think and eventually come together, you’ll get something far closer to what you deserve.