Each time an NFL player receives a check because a company uses his name or likeness, like EA’s Madden NFL video game, he should thank Pat Allen.
In 1983, NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw bought the NFLPA out of its exclusive licensing contract and made Pat Allen the Director of the NFLPA’s Group Licensing Department.
Before she took over, the Group Licensing department produced a total of $1 million in licensing revenues. This department now known as NFL Players Inc., the NFLPA’s licensing and marketing subsidiary, has now grown to produce a reported 1.4 billion dollars in revenue last fiscal year.
This steady increase in revenue year after year can be attributed back to the initial efforts led by Pat and her focus on strengthening important corporate relationships, most significantly Electronic Arts (EA). EA launched the popular video game as John Madden Football in 1988 using generic players and team marks. In 1993, EA acquired the rights to use NFL teams and players and renamed the game Madden NFL. Through Allen’s leadership, EA, among other companies, now pays players for using their name and likeness.
Allen continued her impact on driving revenue for players by developing a program that helped players become more marketable as personalities and celebrities. This program not only helps several players develop careers post-football, but it also helps current players receive payment for personal appearances.
Allen worked closely with the league’s licensing arm, NFL Properties, negotiating the first joint sponsorship agreement with the league in 2000. This agreement, which is still in place, continues to deliver value to the players and NFL Players Inc. through numerous player appearance opportunities and revenue streams. Under Allen, the annual licensing rebate paid to players for their participation in the NFLPA’s group licensing program grew from $4,000 per player in 1994 to $10,000 per player in 2006, the year she retired.
Pat Allen helped build NFL Players Inc. into the for-profit licensing and marketing organization it is today and fought to ensure players received payment for companies using their name and likeness. Her significance is felt by each player, every time they receive their royalty check from NFL Players Inc.