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NFL star rookie Marvin Harrison Jr. has not signed his likeness away for merchandizing and video games; now, he's being sued
Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

NFL star rookie Marvin Harrison Jr. has not signed his likeness away for merchandizing and video games; now, he's being sued

Harrison Jr. has no agent and currently does not have his jersey sold by the league.

Star rookie Marvin Harrison Jr. is likely the only player in the NFL who hasn't signed an agreement with the players' union to market his likeness and merchandise.

The no. 4 overall draft pick for the Arizona Cardinals is also facing a lawsuit from Fanatics over an alleged $1 million deal to market his merchandise. Fanatics would also be one of the outlets that sells his jersey if he were to sign the standard licensing agreement that the vast majority of players sign.

That agreement is called the NFL Players Association group licensing agreement. It gives the union exclusive rights to market a player's name, image, signature, and voice. This, of course, includes jerseys and memorabilia with a player's name and face, and it is the same way players end up in video games like Madden NFL, ESPN reported.

The union holds agreements with video game giant Electronic Arts, Hallmark, Under Armour, the aforementioned Fanatics, and more.

'We're not taking that deal. We're not signing the deal.'

The GLA was developed in 1972 to protect player marketing rights through its union and has ensured that players get paid royalties, which have a reported baseline of $30,000 per season.

Of the 2,125 active NFL players reported in 2023, Harrison Jr. is one of the few players carving out this incredibly rare path. Not only is the wide receiver holding on to his likeness (for now), but he also does not have an agent.

The number of players not to sign the GLA is hard to tell, but there are other notable high-income players who also do not or did not have agents. This included Super Bowl winners Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner, current Baltimore Ravens players Lamar Jackson and Roquan Smith, and fellow NFL rookie Caleb Williams.

Harrison Jr. has reportedly received help, however, from his father, Marvin Harrison Sr., a Hall of Fame wide receiver, when negotiating deals.

Without the help of the NFLPA, the younger Harrison has three deals that are publicly known: a shoe and apparel deal with New Balance, an endorsement with the shampoo Head and Shoulders, and a memorabilia deal with Fanatics.

Harrison Jr.'s deal was reportedly signed before his final year at Ohio State University and is estimated to be worth more than $1 million. The deal allegedly was signed to market his autographs, signed trading cards, game-worn apparel, and other marketing opportunities.

Those details come from an unnamed source from ESPN, who also claimed that Harrison Jr. is trying to leverage the fact that he hasn't signed the GLA as a way to get more money out of Fanatics.

Fanatics alleges that the two sides agreed to a binding term sheet in mid-May 2023, taking just two days to finalize.

Fanatics has initiated a lawsuit against the rookie and is seeking damages worth "millions of dollars." The company is said to be hoping that the lawsuit will force Harrison Jr. to fulfill his obligations. The company also took issue with the fact that Harrison Jr. has allegedly "publicly asserted" that a contract between the two parties does not exist.

Podcaster and former NFL punter Pat McAfee commented in early May 2024 that Harrison Jr. had previously turned down a "card deal" from Fanatics while he was a sophomore in college.

"Marvin Harrison, who doesn't need the money, said, 'We're not taking that deal. We're not signing the deal.' What we have been told is the price of Marvin Harrison Jr. as a rookie and second-year in the NFL is not the same as when he was a sophomore in college," McAfee reported.

Meanwhile, Harrison Jr. has been selling memorabilia on his website. Photos, jerseys, footballs, and helmets have been on sale under the banner of The Official Harrison Collection.

Harrison Jr.'s representatives did not respond to request for comment; however, the player answered questions about signing the GLA and an agent during his introductory press conference with the Arizona Cardinals.

"I'll continue to talk to my team, and we'll do what's best for me moving forward," Harrison Jr. reportedly said. "We'll just take it one day at a time. I just got drafted, so I'm trying to enjoy the moment and be happy while I can at the moment."

Fanatics has requested a trial by jury.

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Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados is a writer focusing on sports, culture, entertainment, gaming, and U.S. politics. The podcaster and former radio-broadcaster also served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he confirms actually does exist.
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