While sports video games become more popular as they become more authentic, some college athletes allege EA Sports is profiting from the use of their images. Former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit charging EA Sports with stealing the likenesses of college football and basketball players for its games, and accusing the NCAA of failing to protect its athletes from exploitation. EA Sports argues that even if it were using the players’ likenesses, the First Amendment gives it the right to do so. Reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada examines this debate.
“When the NCAA turns a blind eye, and EA Sports makes a lot of money off of this situation, you know something’s wrong.” — Sam Keller, former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback
The lawsuit “falls far short of alleging the sort of facts needed to show that Keller’s ‘likeness’ — as opposed to historical, statistical facts — has been appropriated by anyone.” – NCAA, in court papers responding to the claim
USC tailback Stafon Johnson went through seven hours of reconstructive surgery Sept. 28 to repair his throat after he accidentally dropped a weight bar on his neck, crushing his throat and larynx. He speaks with reporter Shelley Smith in his first extensive on-camera interview.
“I vaguely remember sitting on the operating table, so many voices, so many different things being said. I’m gasping for air, trying to figure out where my next breath is going to come from, but I don’t like to show hurt, something bothering me. I played it off very cool. But in the back of my mind, like, ‘Stafon this might be it.’ But I couldn’t let that happen. With all the strength in me, I couldn’t let that happen. I have to get back to my family, my friends, everyone I know that loves me. I think I owe them that.” – Stafon Johnson
Scared Stiff: Pop Warner Coach’s Mortuary Trip Keeps Players Straight
Outside the Lines (Sunday, 9 a.m. ESPN)
Berkeley (Cal.) Junior Bears assistant coach Todd Walker, who works for funeral homes in Oakland, takes young players to the mortuary each year to show them where they could end up if they choose a violent lifestyle. Studies show that Oakland has the third highest crime rate in the nation. Reporter Tim Keown examines the Pop Warner coach’s effort to keep his players off the streets.
As Oklahoma anticipates meeting Stanford in the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve, former Sooners linebacker Pasha Jackson, who played in Oklahoma’s 2003 Rose Bowl win over Washington State, talks of eschewing his NFL dreams to attend medical school in Cuba. Although a U.S. embargo prohibits Americans from visiting Cuba, Pasha is able to study in Havana through an arrangement between the Cuban government and a New York- based nonprofit organization. While school is tuition free, he shares his room with eight other students, and lives on a monthly stipend of 100 pesos — the equivalent of less than $5US — which can buy him about 10 ham sandwiches.
“I guess I came to the realization that football wasn’t really going to do it for me anymore, and I told my father, ‘I think I’m going to take a break, I’m going to go to Mexico.’ And my dad says, ‘Why are you going to go to Mexico, Pasha?’ ‘Well, I just want to learn Spanish.’ And my father says, ‘If you want to learn Spanish, how about you learn it in Cuba?’ He shows me this Web site — it’s a medical school program in Havana. First thing that I see is that it’s completely free.” – Pasha Jackson
Charlie Johnson is the Indianapolis Colts’ version of Santa Claus, assuring there are funds for family Christmas presents by monitoring teammates’ infractions. The Colts offensive linemen have a strict code of conduct, and breaking it — by telling a bad joke, blowing an assignment or garnering too much publicity — is considered a fineable offense, ranging from $5 to $500. Rachel Nichols tallied the damage with the Colts O-line, noting that the earnings are given to former Colts tackle Tarik Glenn’s charity, “Dream Alive,” which provides Christmas presents for families in need.