An interesting story has developed over the past two days. It seems that at yesterday’s Sports Sponsorship Symposium in New York, Mike Principe, the director for BEST (the agency that represents Michael Vick), announced that Vick had a deal in place with Nike. This was big news, since Nike was fairly vocal in their decision to drop Vick when the dogfighting charges were filed in 2006.
I wasn’t at the event when this announcement happened, but I have to believe the response was quite mixed. There would be a tremendous amount of risk for Nike to sign Michael Vick so early in his return to the NFL. At the same time, it seems like the response in Philadelphia for Vick has been mostly supportive and without backlash against the Eagles’ existing sponsors.
Fast-forward to today, and we have an official response from Nike (as reported by Darren Rovell of CNBC here): “Nike does not have a contractual relationship with Michael Vick. We have agreed to supply product to Michael Vick as we do a number of athletes who are not under contract with Nike.”
This probably makes a lot more sense from Nike. Every athlete needs equipment, and I see nothing wrong with Nike providing their products to a former client that is making a comeback. The relationship is very minimal, without Vick representing Nike in any formal or public manner (and yes, even if he’s wearing Nike products, that’s not indicative of representing Nike – he could have bought Nike product on his own to wear).
So why did Principe make such a public statement yesterday about this relationship? I wish I knew the exact wording, which would help determine if he over-exaggerated the agreement or if the audience jumped to their own conclusion. Either way, the story is now damaging to all parties involved: Nike for the “potential relationship,” Vick for the deal that wasn’t, and Principe for possibly misrepresenting his client.