NFL wideout Pierre Garçon sues FanDuel for ‘misappropriating’ name, likeness

fanduel-garcon-lawsuitA National Football League player has launched a class action suit against daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel, accusing the site of profiting off himself and other NFL players without compensating them in return.

On Friday, Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon filed suit in Maryland, accusing FanDuel of having “misappropriated” the names and likenesses of “offensive skilled position” players. Garçon says FanDuel “knowingly and improperly exploits the popularity” of NFL players, who he’s invited to join his class action.

Garçon’s suit makes no mention of the other major DFS operator, DraftKings, presumably because the NFL Players Association struck a marketing partnership with DraftKings in September that permitted the use of NFL player images.

Interestingly, Garçon was actively shilling for FanDuel last year via his personal Twitter account, offering the chance to win free tickets to Redskins games for players who signed up for the DFS site. Garçon’s personal involvement predated the team partnership the Skins signed with FanDuel last November.

Garçon’s credibility takes another hit via a statement released through his agent, which claims that Fanduel has “shown increasing revenues leading to large profits” via the unauthorized use of his name/likeness. To date, no one believes FanDuel or DraftKings have posted a single penny in profit due to their enormous player acquisition costs.

As for the substance of Garçon’s claims, case law is split on professional athletes’ ownership of their names and images, while the use of player statistics for things like box scores has been ruled outside the boundaries of copyright law. But most observers belkieve Garçon has an uphill climb to prove he’s suffered any damages at the hands of FanDuel.

Meanwhile, the NFL’s chief lobbyist has suggested that the league’s steadfast position that DFS isn’t gambling may not be as set in stone as it once was. On Friday, the Huffington Post quoted Cynthia Hogan, the NFL’s senior VP of public policy and government affairs, saying that the league could alter its view depending on the answers to the questions being raised regarding DFS’ legality by state and federal legislators and law enforcement officials.

The NFL has stridently rejected suggestions that DFS is gambling while insisting that DFS isn’t as potentially threatening to the hallowed integrity of NFL games as single-game sports betting. But Hogan acknowledged that “some state [attorneys general], some state legislatures, and Congress may look at” whether DFS is legal and “if the status were to change, we would change our view of it.”

Finally, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has continued his war of words against the daily fantasy sports industry. Reid, who earlier this month called DFS part of the “real scary thing” that is online gaming, has now slammed the industry’s new self-regulatory agency, saying it won’t provide the “strong oversight” the industry needs to ensure there’s no more “corruption from this unregulated, illegal gambling.”

Last month, Reid’s home state officially declared DFS to be gambling and ordered operators to quit serving Nevada residents unless they acquired state gambling licenses. In a statement released on Friday, Reid urged other state and federal officials to impose regulations on “what is essentially gambling by another name.”