Washington Redskins’ Pierre Garcon sues FanDuel

Pierre Garcon is suing FanDuel “on behalf of all NFL players,” despite once being an enthusiastic mouthpiece for the site. (Image cbssports.com)

Pierre Garcon, wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, has launched a class action lawsuit against daily fantasy sports (DFS) site FanDuel over the alleged misuse of players’ names and likenesses.

Garcon says that the FanDuel exploits players and their images for profit and that he is suing “on behalf of all NFL players.”

FanDuel’s main rival site, DraftKings, has a deal with the NFL Players’ Association that sanctions the use of NFL stars in its advertising and as such is not named in the filing.

“FanDuel has taken the liberty to engage in these actions without my consent and without proper licensing rights,” Garcon said in a statement. “As a result of these activities, FanDuel daily fantasy contests have shown increasing revenues leading to large profits.

“I am bringing this lawsuit against FanDuel for using my name, image, and likeness in both daily fantasy contests and through advertising on TV ads and infomercials,” he added. Garcon’s lawsuit states, among other complaints, that his name appeared in a 29-minute FanDuel infomercial 53 times without permission.

DFS Suddenly Vulnerable

For an industry whose rapid growth once appeared unstoppable, DFS suddenly seems remarkably vulnerable. Following the revelation that FanDuel and DraftKings until recently allowed their respective employees to play on each other’s sites, both face lawsuits from former players accusing fraud, as well as investigations from the authorities into their respective business models.

Nevada has declared DFS to be gambling and therefore illegal without proper licensing, and meanwhile, there are calls from politicians and the press for regulation, or prohibition.      

The suit essentially addresses two different areas: the use of player names and images within the games themselves and those used for advertising the site.   

“In the operation and sale of online daily fantasy football gaming products, Defendant FanDuel knowingly and improperly exploits the popularity and accomplishments of current Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon, along with all the other National Football League (“NFL”) players at offensive skilled positions,” states the suit.

“In addition, through a comprehensive advertising campaign and in its daily fantasy football contests, Defendant FanDuel routinely uses the names and likenesses of these NFL players to promote FanDuel’s commercial enterprise, collecting huge revenues from entry fees, without the authority of Mr. Garçon or the other NFL players.”

Bad Blood

It seems that the two parties have history: FanDuel has a marketing partnership with the Redskins and Garcon himself was once an enthusiastic voice for the site on social media, which suggests, perhaps, that bad blood exists between Garcon and his former beneficiary.

In 2014 Garcon was frequently promoting FanDuel, tweeting such statements as: “Try my 1-week fantasy football leak on FanDuel. $10 to join $50k to the winner!”

FanDuel spokeswoman Justine Sacco responded to news of the lawsuit in an official statement this week. “We believe this suit is without merit,” she said. “There is established law that fantasy operators may use player names and statistics for fantasy contests.

“FanDuel looks forward to continuing to operate our contests which sports fans everywhere have come to love.”