It will be a little less awkward if Tom Brady wins the Super Bowl MVP this year.
That's because the New England Patriots quarterback and General Motors, whose Cadillac brand gives away a free car to the championship game's best player, have settled their legal dispute.
General Motors spokesperson Jeff Kuhlman confirmed that a deal had been reached, but said that the terms were confidential. Brady's agent Steve Dubin declined comment.
Brady was seeking $2 million in compensation as well as punitive damages.
Five months after Brady won the Super Bowl XXXVI MVP award, which came with a free Cadillac Escalade EXT, he signed a deal with New England-area Cadillac dealers. As part of the deal, Brady agreed to make personal appearances and appear in local advertising.
Although the contract expired on Jan. 1, 2004, the dealers used Brady's likeness in two Boston Globe ads in January and February of that year.
Brady didn't immediately take action, but tension between Brady and the company increased in subsequent months. In February 2004, Brady won another car for taking home the MVP award to Super Bowl XXXVIII, but by June he was upset he had still not received it. General Motors officials said it was because Brady switched his car model preference.
"I'm not driving [the] car, that's for sure," Brady told ESPN's Chris Mortensen at the time. "It's the damndest thing I ever heard. It's ridiculous."
When Brady did receive the car, he donated it to his school, Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., in order to raise money for a sports funding campaign. The raffle for the car took in $365,000.
It didn't end there.
In January 2005, as the Patriots were closing in on yet another Super Bowl title, Brady filed suit for the newspaper ads that appeared after his contract had expired. The Patriots won the game, but wide receiver Deion Branch won the MVP award and the free car.
This year's Super Bowl will be played in Detroit, where General Motors' headquarters are located.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org