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Desmond Howard says he’s ‘contemplating’ joining O’Bannon case

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The natural tie-in to the Johnny Manziel autograph story is the debate over whether or not athletes should be allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness. And the natural tie-in to that discussion is the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit vs. the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company.

Desmond Howard, the former Michigan wide receiver who now works as college football analyst and color commentator for ESPN, told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports that he has given a lot of consideration to the possibility of joining the case. Howard is currently involved in his own legal battle over the use of a certain iconic image of him (which is a fascinating story by itself and well worth a read).

From Yahoo!:

Like the signed pictures of Manziel that may have run afoul of NCAA rules and has prompted an investigation, Howard too is embroiled in a dispute over a picture of him – a picture that has cost him tens of thousands of dollars defending a lawsuit against him and has led him to the brink of action. 

Howard told Yahoo! Sports he is considering attaching his name to the O’Bannon v. NCAA lawsuit that is challenging long-held NCAA business practice. 

“I’m seriously contemplating it,” he said.

Howard would be the most high-profile person to join the O’Bannon case to date, at least as far as the college football angle is concerned. But Howard’s comments create an interesting dynamic because his employer, ESPN, is the biggest rights holder for college football games and programming. The current rules within the NCAA say student-athletes aren’t entitled to a cent of the billions of dollars that make up media rights agreements in college athletics.

O’Bannon plaintiffs aim to change that model, but they would need the judge presiding over the case to rule in favor of making it a class-action lawsuit before that’s even a possibility. Adding Howard to the list of plaintiffs, which now include current athletes, wouldn’t change the direction of the case one way or the other, but it would add another layer of intrigue given his role as a major media personality in the sport.

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13 Responses to “Desmond Howard says he’s ‘contemplating’ joining O’Bannon case”
  1. dhlions says: Aug 6, 2013 3:04 PM


  2. southernpatriots says: Aug 6, 2013 3:08 PM

    Whether Desmond joins the suit or not, I would expect much higher profile athletes to join soon. This would be one of the ways that at least some money could come to athletes to purchase insurance policies to provide in case of traumatic injury and loss of future potential earnings, rather than borrow against future NFL earnings, which may never arrive. It would also protect the individual players privacy and likeness rights since those rights are not relinquished in scholarship contracts.

    The challenge will be to provide a mechanism to protect the “amateur” status of college athletes, while at the same time allowing long term care and loss of earnings insurance to be purchased and maybe funds to be established for disbursement to athletes after their eligibility is over.

  3. 8to80texansblog says: Aug 6, 2013 3:16 PM

    I wonder if all this forces Manziel to join. If he’s found guilty of this I would assume he joins the lawsuit the same day. But I think he has to wait and see what happens. The NCAA has a lot of power on who draws their ire and if he throws his name in the hat now… this could get very ugly.

  4. overratedgators says: Aug 6, 2013 3:23 PM

    Jockeying for a raise from ESPN. “Here ya go, Desmond. Another $500k/year. Now stay the hell out of the lawsuit.”

  5. dhlions says: Aug 6, 2013 3:24 PM


    Probably dead on, though my guess is that because of the reasons you state the NCAA finds no wrongdoing on behalf of Manz. and his friend (or some other person in the shadows) takes the fall (i.e. nothing happens).

  6. noaxetogrind says: Aug 6, 2013 3:45 PM

    As a former scholarship football player at a major football school I have never quite understood the line that goes something like “these players are generating millions and getting nothing in return”. I received a scholarship that was worth roughly 100K when you count in room and board. I then parlayed that into a GA job and received my masters degree. I did suffer a significant knee injury my senior year which affects me today so I think the idea of creating an insurance/medical fund is worth researching. The public is constantly told how college football exploits it’s “poor” athletes who go to school and dont have a nickel to even get a hamburger. The reality is that it is the middle class kid who doesn’t have any extra spending money. My teammates from economically disadvantaged backgrounds (at least that is how they filled out their FAFSA’s) had plenty of money. Every major college in America lets their scholarship athletes keep all of their Pell money. That can easily amount to over 5k per year these days. Thats not bad for pocket change. I have no problem with the schools making money because it all gets reinvested either in facilities or academic programs. Everybody is all freaked out about coaches salaries but keep in mind the vast majority of these are paid by private funding and not with state or university funds. The reality is that college football money is what allows Title IX to exist along with a lot of academic programs. Just one mans opinion.

  7. 8to80texansblog says: Aug 6, 2013 3:48 PM

    With this most recent news from Joe Schad that there’s a video of him signing autographs and talking about the money coming out.

    I think he gets suspended 5 games min and probably the season to indefinitely. In which case he’ll be in the O’Bannon lawsuit VERY soon.

  8. floridacock says: Aug 6, 2013 4:52 PM

    Good for them. Put the NCAA out of business and let the big boy teams play in their own league.

  9. manik56 says: Aug 6, 2013 5:13 PM

    EA Sports didn’t have a college football video game when Howard played. I recall he was on the cover of the game roughly fifteen years after he last played at Michigan. If he wasn’t compensated for that, it is a whole different case since he could have been because the NCAA had no jurisdiction over him. When was Howard’s likeness allegedly used without his permission?

  10. tigersfandan says: Aug 6, 2013 8:47 PM

    The NCAA as we know is being destroyed because money is overruling common sense. It’s sad. I feel no sympathy for the NCAA if some big names join this suit.

  11. djstat says: Aug 6, 2013 10:32 PM


  12. cappa662 says: Aug 7, 2013 8:15 AM

    Wait one second! Oscar Robinson and Bill Russell have their names attached to the case!!!!!! I’m sure those guys names are bigger and brighter than Desmond Howard!!!!

  13. ironman721 says: Aug 7, 2013 8:23 AM

    Just wait till Tebow gets cut and joins this ridiculous lawsuit.

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