Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was a Nike spokesperson at the beginning of his career, but the company dropped him in 2007 after he was accused of abusing, torturing, and executing dogs as part of his illegal dogfighting ring. On Friday, Nike announced that they had re-signed Vick as a spokesman. “Michael acknowledges his past mistakes,” Nike reps told CNN. “We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.”
Nike, who also gave disgraced golfer Tiger Woods a brand spanking new
endorsement deal, publicly denied working with Vick in 2009, but have
since added him back to the roster.
As can be expected, many football fans (and Nike customers) weren’t pleased with the news — including some high-profile celebrities. “Big Bang Theory” star and Humane Society supporter Kaley Cuoco simply wrote, “Dear Nike, I’m disappointed.”
Sophia Bush, entering her ninth season on “One Tree Hill,” had a few choice words as well. “NIKE just signed Michael Vick!?” she tweeted. “Done. Over. Lost customer. NEVER wearing Nike again. #AnimalAbuseIsUnforgivable. The propensity to be cruel and ruthless toward a defenseless animal is sick, twisted, & unforgivable. #NOTaRoleModel.”
Jenna Dewan, who will star in this fall’s “The Playboy Club” on NBC, re-tweeted Bush’s sentiments, adding, “Yes, I do believe in forgiveness, but that does not mean I need to support him as an inspirational figure.”
It’s been a good week for Vick. At Sunday’s 2011 BET Awards show, he was named Athlete of the Year in a category sponsored by Subway. Facebook groups cropped up immediately, including “Boycott Subway for Supporting Michael Vick” and “NO WAY Subway.”
When a company chooses a spokesperson or endorses talent, that company is essentially saying that the talent represents the values of their brand. Do you think Nike made a mistake in supporting Vick? Sound off in the comments below.