The son of legendary NFL announcer John Facenda can seek damages for the use of his father's voice on a program about a John Madden video game, a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled yesterday.
In a written agreement signed before his 1984 death, Facenda gave the NFL full use of his announcing work - except when it came to any product endorsement, the judge's order said.
The ruling allows John Facenda Jr. to seek damages from a jury on the question of liability, although U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacob P. Hart threw out his invasion-of-privacy claim.
The NFL plans to appeal, and no trial date has been set.
"We disagree with the decision," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
John Facenda Jr. filed the suit after hearing snippets of his father's work on an NFL Network program about the making of the 2006 John Madden video game. The 22-minute program includes three lines from Facenda that last a combined 13 seconds.
"X's and O's on the blackboard are translated into imagination on the field," Facenda says at one point.
John Facenda Jr. contends that the network program is a promotion for the video, citing the NFL's licensing agreement with the game's maker to support sales with promotional material. The program was telecast on the cable channel in August 2006, before the game's release. The NFL calls the program a "documentary."
Bills. Free agent Josh Scobey signed with Buffalo, providing depth at running back and special teams. Scobey is a five-year NFL veteran who appeared in 12 games with Seattle last season before breaking his arm.
Noteworthy. Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving with a blood-alcohol level above California's legal limit the night he was followed and shot by an off-duty police officer.
Foley was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to submit to alcohol testing if requested by authorities. He also was ordered to pay a $1,756 fine and appear at an event for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The 31-year-old was shot early Sept. 3 near his Poway home by officer Aaron Mansker, who had tailed the player for nearly 30 miles on a freeway, suspecting the driver was drunk. He shot Foley when the player got out of his car and approached him.
Foley was taken to a hospital, where tests showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent. California's limit is 0.08 percent.