Despite the bad publicity that still dogs Michael Vick, with fans still hounding him for his dogfighting conviction, Nike decided to re-sign the Eagles QB to a new endorsement deal four years after canceling a multimillion-dollar contract. No terms were released, but one has to conclude that Vick didn’t sign for kibbles and bits:
Nike, which signed Vick as a rookie in 2001, terminated his contract in August 2007 after he filed a plea agreement admitting his involvement in a dogfighting ring. Vick spent 21 months in prison.
CNBC first reported the deal. Terms were not released.
”Michael acknowledges his past mistakes,” Nike said in a statement. ”We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.”
Nike resumed a formal relationship with Vick in 2009, in which Nike supplied Vick with product for free, but paid him no fee. It appears that Nike intended to test the waters with Vick in two ways: to see whether an association with him would create a consumer backlash, and to see whether Vick really had turned a new leaf. After two years, Nike must have concluded that an endorsement deal wouldn’t backfire on them.
Coughing up free product is one thing, however; paying Vick cash for an endorsement is quite another. Vick has done well to keep his nose clean after his second chance in the NFL, but outside of Philadelphia, plenty of fans still believe that Vick got off too lightly for his dogfighting and cruel treatment of the dogs in his possession. Did Nike have no other athletes in better position to represent its product than Vick? And what will the slogan be for this ad campaign — “Stop dogging it” instead of “Just do it”? And does it make sense to sign Vick to a new endorsement deal when it appears likely that the NFL will shut down for at least part of the 2011 season?
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