Honda was named in a lawsuit filed this week by former Ohio State football player Chris Spielman against his alma mater and marketing agent IMG College. Spielman's complaint takes aim at a collection of Honda-sponsored banners at Ohio Stadium depicting OSU players without getting permission to use their images and without offering compensation.

Spielman's complaint, of course, is only the latest in a widespread realization, among players both amateur and professional, that their post-career images constitute a career path of their own. In the same way that actors Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Steve McQueen have a financial life after death, athletes – and their legal representatives – are realizing that those likenesses, built on legendary performances, have value in their association.

The suit pits several institutions against each other with the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio as the playing field. Honda is a major employer in the state. OSU is the state's flagship university and its football program is annually among the nation's best. Spielman is a popular former player and well-known media personality. It should be a clash that rivals anything on the gridiron.

For its part, Honda appears to want to stay out of the fray: A spokesman said: "Honda has a relationship with the Ohio State University that spans three decades and we hope this matter will be resolved quickly."


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