Detroit Lions legend threatens Michigan brewery with legal action over new brew

Barry Sanders said the brewer used his image without permission; cans of beer will be relabeled

A Detroit brewery had to call off its latest beer just one day after announcing it over legal objections from a retired Detroit Lions star.

Eastern Market Brewing Co. had announced its new “Same Old Lager” over the weekend, with pixelated artwork on the can reminiscent of a classic 32-bit football video game. The football player was wearing No. 20 which could have been a reference to the year, to the Lions’ 20-0 shutout loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday (if they somehow knew that would happen), or to former Lions running back Barry Sanders, who spent the entirety of his 10-season NFL career in Detroit and wore the No. 20 jersey.

Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders carries the ball during a 24-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on October 6, 1991, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Betsy Peabody Rowe/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders carries the ball during a 24-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on October 6, 1991, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Betsy Peabody Rowe/Getty Images)

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Sanders apparently believed it was the latter.

“I have no affiliation with this company, and they are using my image without any permission,” he tweeted on Monday. “My legal team is working through the process to shut this down ASAP. Apologies to any fans that were duped.”

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The brewery then said it would stop sales and production of the beer after the legal threat was made, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The beer is a “crisp” 4.5 alcohol by volume “classic American lager,” according to the report.

However, the beer will be returning with a new label that features the brewery’s elephant logo in place of the pixelated football player.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

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The brewery announced the turn of events in a Facebook post that nodded to both Sanders’ reputation as a “greatest of all time” player and the Lions’ disappointing season.

“Unfortunately fans, it’s going to be another disappointing Thanksgiving,” the brewery wrote. “Our last run (of cans), considered our Greatest Of All Time, retired early. Have no fear, a new batch (with new labels) will be here before the playoffs. Like we say every beer, maybe this beer, will be the beer.

“All fun aside, we love beer and we love football, because they’re welcomed escapes to a 2020 that hasn’t been easy on any of us,” the brewery continued. “Neither should be taken too seriously, but sometimes, they are.”