After being dropped four years ago by Nike for pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges and serving almost two years in prison, CNBC’s Darren Rovell reported that the sportswear giant had resigned Philadelphia Eagles star quarterback Michael Vick to a new endorsement deal with the company. The company had been supplying him with free equipment and apparel since his comeback, but were not paying him for wearing the Swoosh. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Vick reclaimed the Eagles’ starting quarterback position after shining early in the season when the current starter Kevin Kolb went down with an injury. He went on to have one of his best seasons as a pro, which earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl. After serving 18 months in prison, Vick returned as a more mature and complete player that relied on smarts rather than his athleticism. Many expect Vick to sign a long-term deal with the Eagles once the lockout is over.
The long-term deal along with his new endorsements will also help Vick as he navigates through his bankruptcy proceedings. Once the highest paid player in the NFL, Vick filed for bankruptcy after owing creditors nearly $20 million dollars after a series of bad investments and purchases. Vick also signed an endorsement deal with Unequal Technologies last summer, the first major brand to embrace the former star. The Nike deal will go a long way in establishing Vick as a viable endorser in the marketplace.
Nike has a history of sticking behind its athletes that have been embroiled in personal setbacks. The company never cut ties with Kobe Bryant after he was accused of sexual assault back in 2003. Nike has also stood behind Tiger Woods after his scandal involving multiple girlfriends and the eventual divorce from his wife.
Nike spokesman Derek Kent told Rovell, “Michael has acknowledged his past mistakes. We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.” Vick has been working with several community organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and Peninsula Boys and Girls Club to put an end to dogfighting.
The news of Vick’s new deal was not met by approval by many. Some groups have called for a boycott of Nike and its products and there are many who still refuse to support the Philadelphia Eagles for giving him a second chance in the first place. Many also feel that the 21 months he served in prison wasn’t enough for the cruelty that the many dogs faced under his supervision. However, in corporate America, everyone loves a winner. If Vick can continue to excel on the football field (if we have a football season), he will certainly gain more endorsement deals. The key is in him remaining sincere in his efforts to end dogfighting and continuing to educate those about the pitfalls of the act. Add another chapter to the Michael Vick comeback story.