Nike welcomes back disgraced NFL star Michael Vick

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 01, 2011 6:53 PM
Nike welcomes back disgraced NFL star Michael Vick

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nike Inc has re-signed Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to an endorsement deal, four years after it dumped him for bankrolling a dog-fighting ring, the company said on Friday.

Vick, 31, was named comeback player of the year by the Sporting News for his all-star performance last season.

"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," the company said in a written statement.

Vick was once the highest paid player in the NFL, and one of its most popular stars with the Atlanta Falcons.

But his reputation took a beating after police raided his country property in Virginia in 2007 in connection with an illegal dog fighting ring.

He served 19 months in prison after pleading guilty on federal dog fighting charges in 2007, the same year that Nike terminated its previous endorsement deal with him.

Vick has since been the subject of ire from animal rights activists, but he has regained his on-the-field prowess since joining the Eagles in 2009.

In 2009, Nike denied it had an endorsement deal with Vick after it was revealed the company was supplying him with sports gear.

Andrew Stroth, a Chicago-based attorney who negotiated the deal for Vick, said his client is happy about the deal.

"Michael is committed to Nike, Mike is a world class athlete and he's excited," Stroth told Reuters.

The deal with Nike went into effect on Friday and it is a multi-year agreement, Stroth said.

He added that he could not disclose more information about the deal, other than to say it involves Vick continuing his involvement in football camps and clinics for youths.

Vick is looking for other partnerships, including deals with technology or health and wellness companies that would allow him to take an equity stake in those businesses, Stroth said. It would be "akin to the Magic Johnson model," he said.

Johnson, the former Los Angeles Lakers star, has partnered with chains of movie theaters, health clubs, restaurants and coffee shops, and he takes an equity stake in his businesses in addition to lending his name to them.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)