Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington has ended a nearly four-year dispute with the NFL Players Association and agreed to allow his name and likeness to be used for merchandising.
The battle, which dates to the days immediately following his No.2 overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft, prevented the popular Arrington from appearing on jerseys, T-shirts, video games, trading cards and other prominent items sold to the general public.
Arrington, the only active player to challenge the union's group licensing agreement, changed his mind during contract negotiations that led to his signing a nine-year extension worth $68million two weeks ago. Arrington had sought an increase on the standard rate paid to players for merchandise bearing their name or likeness, 6 percent of wholesale cost.
A standard clause consenting to the group licensing agreement was included in his new contract, and for the first time in several contract signings and renegotiations for Arrington, he did not cross it out.
Executives for Players Inc., the union's licensing arm, yesterday confirmed the Arrington agreement but declined to comment further. Arrington and his agents, Carl and Kevin Poston, were unavailable for comment, making the precise motivation for his turnabout unclear.
Industry sources said, however, that both Redskins owner Dan Snyder and union executive director Gene Upshaw actively sought for Arrington to end his holdout, and the generally team-friendly nature of Arrington's new contract suggests a more conciliatory stance on his part. Union executives also were firmly resolved against paying more money to Arrington for fear of emboldening other players to seek the same.
No immediate merchandising plans have been made for releasing Arrington items, said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. But the linebacker remains one of the most dynamic and widely sought players in the NFL.
"This will make a lot of his fans very happy," said Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson. "Ever since he started with us, he's been in high, high demand."
Though the 6 percent of wholesale cost paid players for merchandise may not seem like much, the sum can approach $1million annually for star players, and for the players, it requires doing nothing but continuing to play football.
Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.