On January 31, six members of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears filed a lawsuit to prevent current license holders Julia Meyer and the Renaissance Marketing Corporation from using the “Super Bowl Shuffle” music video for personal financial gain. The video, which was created by the team three months prior to the Bears’ victory in Super Bowl XX, was an instant success, earning a gold record, a platinum video award, and even a Grammy nomination.
The ex-Chicago bears who brought the suit –Richard Dent, Willie Gault, Jim McMahon, Otis Wilson, Steve Fuller and Mike Richardson (collectively known as the “Shufflin’ Crew”) – insist that the music video was created in order to raise money for Chicago’s neediest families. In the court filing, those former players now claim that defendants are wrongfully using their identities, names, likenesses, voices and performances from the “Super Bowl Shuffle” for financial gain, and are doing so without the players’ permission.
By filing the suit, the former players hope that any further proceeds from the video will once again be used to help the less fortunate. Walid J. Tamari, the attorney for the plaintiffs, noted that the “the plaintiffs seek that a constructive trust be established for charitable purposes that they select in order to continue the Super Bowl Shuffle’s charitable objective.” During one part of the music video the now-deceased Walton Payton rapped, “We’re not doing this because we’re greedy. The Bears are doing it to feed the needy.”
The original licensing deal was created after Red Label Records president Richard Meyer approached Gault about making the video in 1985. Red Label Records allegedly assigned any interest they had in the song to Meyer one year later. When Meyer died in 1992, his interest in the song passed to his wife, Julia Meyer. Part of the players’ suit alleges that the original transfer of the rights from Red Label to Meyers was invalid because Red Label never received the players’ consent to make the transfer – consent that was required under the original licensing agreement.
In a heated interview with ESPN in 2010, former Bears linebacker Mike Singletary voiced criticism over how the video was being exploited rather than being used to help the poor. When questioned on how the video was being used to help the needy, Singletary stated, “Don’t even take me there because it didn’t quite work that way. It fed the rich.”