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Suit filed against NFL for voice misuse

PHILADELPHIA (July 20, 2006) -- The son of the man whose voice is synonymous with NFL Films has filed a lawsuit against the NFL in which he claims his father's voice was misused in promoting a video game.

The deep baritone voice of legendary announcer John Facenda was part of NFL Network program titled "The Making of Madden 2006," last year, violating an agreement with the league, according to the lawsuit.

John Facenda Jr.'s attorneys filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on July 17 against the league, NFL Films Inc. and NFL Properties LLC.

The league is allowed to use Facenda's voice as long as it does not constitute the endorsement of a product or service, attorney Paul Lauricella said. But Facenda's voice opened the program and was used again in what Lauricella called a "30-minute commercial for the Madden game."

"People revere the guy," Lauricella said. "They used his voice to make the program look authoritative."

Facenda, who died in 1984, was a prominent Philadelphia TV anchorman whose deep tone was dubbed the "voice of God." He was the voice of NFL Films for two decades.

"We have no problem with the Madden game or NFL Films," Lauricella said. "The problem is they used his dad's voice without permission."

Lauricella said the NFL has called the show, which aired shortly before the game's release, a documentary. He sees it as a promotional piece.

The league contends it did nothing wrong.

"We believe these allegations are unfounded and without merit," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. "We will review the matter with our attorneys and look forward to responding as directed by the court."

The younger Facenda was watching the NFL Network in August 2005 when he heard his father's voice. That came two months after he settled a lawsuit with Campbell Soup Co. for using a Facenda-soundalike in radio and television ads.

The younger Facenda has been aggressive in policing how his father's voice is used.

"He has always been adamant about protecting the integrity and uses of his father's voice," Lauricella said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

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