(CN) – A Hall of Fame football player claims the National Football League and Reebok conspired to keep him from collecting royalties on sales of his jersey. Joe DeLamielleure also sued the NFL Players Association, in Manhattan Federal Court.
DeLamielleure was a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1973, was selected to six Pro Bowls, was 1975 offensive lineman of the year, was named to the all-decade team in 1979 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
He says fans and businesses have sent him multiple requests to buy his jersey, but he can’t reproduce and sell it without permission.
DeLamielleure says Reebok, which has an exclusive merchandise contract with the NFL, sent him a contract for creation of a DeLamielleure jersey, but only if he pays a large upfront fee for production costs.
“Other retired players who had much less noteworthy NFL careers did not have to pay Reebok a large upfront fee to have their jerseys produced and sold,” the complaint states.
DeLamiellure claims such a restriction violates the Donnelly Act, by retraining his ability to generate revenue from sale of NFL jerseys that do not use his likeness.
“Furthermore, defendants did not give plaintiff an alternative, reasonable method of producing jerseys bearing his last name,” the complaint states.
“As a result of this conspiracy, plaintiff has not been able to earn any royalty payments based on the sales of any NFL jerseys bearing plaintiff’s last name, depriving plaintiff of a substantial source of income.”
DeLamielleure wants the defendants enjoined from restraint of trade, and an undetermined amount of damages. He is represented by Justin Parafinczuk, with Koch Parafinczuk & Wolf, of Fort Lauderdale.