Vick’s Vindication Almost Complete
The comeback of Michael Vick is not only unprecedented, but more importantly, almost complete. After spending 21 months in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring, Vick was resigned by Nike to an endorsement deal, nearly four years after they publicly dropped him because of his legal troubles. Not only did most expect Vick to not be able to physically compete upon returning, but endorsement and sponsorship deals were not even an afterthought. Vick’s surprising return to form captivated the entire NFL fanbase, leading to Vick being voted as The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year after missing two seasons and barely playing in 2009.
Nike stated that, “Michael acknowledges his past mistakes. We do not condone those actions, but we support the
positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.” Nike’s support is not that surprising. With the rise of a rejuvenated and redeemed Vick, Nike is seeing dollar signs again. However, many will ask is it too soon? Awarding Vick for his on-the-field efforts is understandable, considering his remarkable talent; however, is it too soon to vindicate him in the public eye? By having Nike endorse Vick as a spokesperson, talent, and role model, is extremely questionable still. While Vick has been an outspoken supporter recently against dogfighting and animal cruelty, it is an expected and calculated move to rebuild his image, not discounting the fact that it is genuine.
Andrew Stroth, the attorney who negotiated Vick’s deal with Nike stated, “Michael is committed to working with Nike and wants to utilize his platform as a professional athlete to have a positive impact on our youth.” So Nike believes that the youth of America will see Vick in a positive light immediately? What do parents have to say about that? While we are a country that loves a comeback, Vick’s story is progressing rather quickly and maybe uncomfortably for some.
It seems that Nike wanted to be in the Michael Vick business immediately upon his release from prison when they renewed their relationship in 2009 to just supply product to Vick and not sign an explicit endorsement deal. It seems that Nike wanted a stake in Vick’s stock early enough because they expected him to have some sort of relevance. What may seem unethical and disappointing to many would seem like a sound business decision to others. Awkward as it may be, it’s the nature of the business. Again, all this shows is that cash is king, whether or not animals were harmed in the process of making it.