Because it is awesome, that's why.
Famed football player Jim Brown is taking EA Sports to court over the use of his "likeness" in Madden football games. Again. What's the big deal with his likeness anyway?
Brown contends that EA Sports has used the number 32 in Madden without his permission. A judge has ruled that this falls under free speech. Understanding Brown's image and the decades he has spent creating it sheds light into why he is continuing to go after EA Sports.
Perhaps one of the greatest (if not the greatest) running backs the NFL has ever seen, Brown walked away from professional football at the age of 29. Famously, he made his decision public on the set of The Dirty Dozen, the men-on-a-mission World War II flick he was starring in.
The owner of the Cleveland Browns told Brown to pick Hollywood or football. Not one to blink, Brown picked movies, leaving behind a NFL career that included 3 MVP awards and over 12,000 rushing yards. He averaged over a hundred yards per game, something that both Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith could not match.
In The Dirty Dozen, Brown played a soldier who was slated to be hung for killing a white officer in self-defense. This was the racially-charged 1960s, and for the next decade, Brown would take roles in Hollywood that challenged stereotypes.
Brown starred in the 1969 Western 100 Rifles, even getting top billing over Burt Reynolds! The movie is notable for featuring one of the first interracial love scenes (NSFW) between Brown and co-star Raquel Welch.
The 1970s brought a slew of blaxploitation films (black exploitation films). The films often depict crime, drugs and prostitution. Some critics have championed them as serious works of the black experience, and others have derided them as a product of white Hollywood tapping into the black cinema audience.
Appearing in a handful of blaxploitation flicks, Brown was one of the bigger action stars of the 1970s. Whether it was Slaughter or Three The Hard Way, he played his characters with style, pizazz and class.
By the end of the decade, Brown began to focus on production as acting work began to tail off. The blaxploitation genre had ran its course, and Brown was harboring thoughts about returning to football. He did get acting work on episodes of T.J. Hooker and Knight Rider, before once again making his way to the big screen in 1987's The Running Man and the following year's I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. The 1990s started off way better than the 1980s for Brown's movie career, and he kept busy with roles in blaxploitation homage Original Gangstas, Tim Burton flick Mars Attacks! and football drama Any Given Sunday.
Brown's spent longer working in Hollywood than he ever spent playing professional football. Out of all the players appearing in Madden, if anyone understands name recognition, image and, well, likeness, it would be Brown. He walked away from football and away from the Cleveland Browns number 32 to work in the Hollywood image factory. And he did it successfully. Generic in-game no-name player or not, for Brown, Cleveland number 32 is as much of his likeness as his face plastered on a movie poster and his name above the title.