Throughout much of his career, quarterback Tom Brady has been one of the league’s most recognizable players. That has earned him plenty of notable endorsement deals over the years. One of which was with General Motors, which is one of the biggest automobile producers in the country. However, that relationship ended on a sour note that led to Brady deciding to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the company.
Tom Brady inks deal with Cadillac after Super Bowl XXXVI win
The New England Patriots led by Brady earned a win in Super Bowl XXXVI in a thrilling 20-17 win over the then-St. Louis Rams
The Patriots were led by their rising-star quarterback, who completed 16-of-27 passes for 145 yards with 1 touchdown pass That helped him earn his first Super Bowl MVP award, which also gave him a free Cadillac Escalade EXT as part of the honor.
In July 2003, Brady had agreed to sign an endorsement deal with Cadillac dealers in the New England area. That included him making personal appearances and showing up in local advertisements for the businesses.
The extent of the deal ran through Jan. 1, 2004, but that’s where things began to get murky and legal issues arisen with Brady taking action through the court system with a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
Tom Brady’s $2 million lawsuit against GM, Cadillac
It didn’t take long for things to go a bit south as after Brady’s deal with General Motors had already expired, the company elected to run additional ads using the star quarterback’s likeliness.
In the lawsuit, the then-Patriots quarterback alleged that on Jan. 30, 2004, GM had asked to use a print ad that included his name and a photo in association from Super Bowl XXXVIII. Brady had denied the request made by the company twice, but General Motors still elected twice to use the ad in the Boston Globe despite that being the case.
The Ads were also reportedly handed in Texas and other parts of Massachusetts after his contract with the automobile maker had already expired. Brady didn’t take legal actions right away against GM, but there was building tension from both sides over the following month.
Brady won his second Super Bowl MVP award after leading the Patriots to a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers. However, Brady didn’t receive another GM model car until later, where he donated it to his high school, Junipero Serra High School, that earned $365,000 in a raffle.
That came to legal blows in January 2005 after Brady filed a lawsuit against General Motors, according to ESPN. It was centered on the newspaper ads that were published after his deal with the company was already expired.
Tom Brady, General Motors agree to settlement
In immediate response to the situation, GM voiced that the lawsuit was “disappointed and shocking” and had called the use of likeness in advertisement “accidental.”
The case went through the court system over several months that saw both sides make not long after the Patriots had won their third Super Bowl in four years.
The dispute over the print advertisement was resolved out of court, with the two sides agreeing to a settlement as the terms remained confidential. Brady had been seeking $2 million in compensation, along with punitive damages in the case. It’s a situation that went sideways due to the mishandling of the matter by General Motors.
Although it turned out to be a drawn-out situation in the legal system, the two sides were able to avoid it lingering any further into the 2005 season. It’s a relationship that was fractured, but it hasn’t hindered Brady from engaging in numerous endorsement deals since then. At the same time, it provided a strong learning lesson for both sides moving forward.