Michael Vick's football career is inextricably linked to the dogfighting charges that landed him in prison for 21 months in December 2007. He returned to football with the Eagles in 2009, and last season Vick was again one of the most explosive players in the league, leading Philadelphia to the postseason.
Now the man who was once the most recognizable face in the NFL only to lose it all while serving time has landed an endorsement deal with Nike -- again, CNBC.com's Darren Rovell reports. "CNBC has learned that, in a remarkable move, Nike, which severed Vick’s contract in 2007 after he admitted to his involvement in a dogfighting ring, has re-signed the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback."
Vick's agent Joel Segal told CNBC that “Michael is excited to have a long-term and strong relationship with Nike.” And Nike spokesman Derek Kent said “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.”
More background via Rovell:
It is believed to be the first time in the history of sports marketing that a brand that dumped an athlete came back to re-sign him. Coca-Cola let Kobe Bryant’s contract expire in 2003, after he was charged with sexual assault; the criminal case was dropped, and the civil case was settled. Coca-Cola eventually hired Bryant back in 2008 to endorse its Vitamin Water brand. …Vick has done and said all the right things since returning to football, and more importantly, he's appeared sincere while doing so.
After a great season on the field in 2010, corporate America started to give him a chance again. Unequal Technologies, which was making Vick his protective gear to go under his jersey, signed him to a two-year endorsement deal in January. Two months later, Vick signed a deal with Core Synergy, a titanium-infused, silicone wristband brand. At the end of the season, Vick's No. 7 Eagles jersey was the sixth most popular in the league.
We dug up two of Vick's most popular Nike commercials, before dogfighting temporarily derailed his career and landed him behind bars. It's hard to believe that these spots are from 2006 and 2007.
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