As a result, he claimed, the developer and publisher opted to create a Madden character resembling his height, skin color, weight and skills. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2009 by a US District Judge in California, who ruled EA was protected by First Amendment rights. But, in 2010, Brown's legal team appealed that decision in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

To put this in perspective, EA Sports typically pays around $500,000 to athletes who make the cover of the ever-popular football game franchise. Similar to lawsuits linked to Ed O'Bannon and the NCAA's use of athletes in its video games, Brown believes he fought for all athletes who believe they're being used to make money for third parties.

EA argued that the use was merely “incidental,” but the court rejected said argument due to the running back's status among the league. Brown’s attorney Robert Carey praised the outcome, saying, “This recovery marks an important victory for plaintiffs in publicity-rights cases, and athletes in particular. Big business should think twice before it turns players’ hard-won identities and achievements into merchandise without permission or compensation.”