Nike Continues to Give Second Chances to Troubled Athletes

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The road to redemption for National Football League player Mike Vick, following his dog-fighting days, has led him to once again sign-up with a company that has proven its loyalty to troubled athletes: Nike.

In 2007, Nike—along with Coca-Cola, Kraft, EA Sports—dropped the then-Atlanta Falcons football player after it was uncovered that Vick was a key figure in a dog-fighting scandal. According to ESPN, a police raid found that Vick had 66 dogs, a dog-fighting pit and bloodstained carpets.

The NFL released a statement that year calling the crime “cruel, degrading and illegal.” After serving 23 months in prison and subsequently entering into a signed contract with Philadelphia Eagles, the quarterback has once again joined up with Nike, a company that endorsed him in the rookie season of his career.

“Michael acknowledges his past mistakes,” Nike spokesman Derek Kent told CNBC. “We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.” The company has not disclosed details of the contract.

Shortly before Kobe Bryant’s arrest for alleged sexual assault charges against a female employee at a Colorado resort, the NBA star had signed a $45 million deal with Nike, according to USA Today. But two years after Bryant’s arrest, the sports company used Bryant’s photos for ads in Sports Illustrated.

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“Nike agrees with most NBA observers that Kobe ranks among the very best players in the NBA, and his training and preparation are key elements of his game,” Nike spokesman Rodney Knox told USA Today in 2005.

In 2000, Tiger Woods signed a five-year $105 million contract with Nike and was the acknowledged centerpiece of the company’s Nike Golf brand. But in 2009, Woods’ cheating ways with various mistresses—including a porn star—came to light and as with Bryant and Vick, endorsements eluded him. But Nike continued to back the golfer and his contract remained intact.

“Nike supports Tiger and his family. Our relationship remains unchanged,” Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf told the Examiner.

Although there has been speculation that the sports company will cut the golfer’s endorsement fee in half for two years, Nike has not confirmed rumors.

“We support Tiger and never underestimate his abilities as a competitor,” Davis said.