Eagles star Michael Vick has signed his first paid endorsement contract since being released from prison for a dogfighting conviction.
The Pro Bowl quarterback’s hawking a company’s products that protected him from harsh hits on the field: football pads from a Kennett Square company called Unequal Technologies.
The relatively small Philadelphia area company is doing what larger brands are shying away from: publicly aligning itself with Michael Vick.
It’s not surprising, said Joe Mahan, an assistant professor at Temple’s Sport Industry Research Center.
“If you look at Michael Vick’s year on the field,” Mahan said, “[A]ll the sports shows had questions like, ‘Was he treated unfairly because he’s such an athletic quarterback and he’s getting hit harder, do the referees treat him differently than other quarterbacks?’ And now this company can point to that and say look he’s still standing. You know here he is, he had a great year and look at the pads he was wearing.”
Mahan said Michael Vick is no stranger to Nike.
“He was endorsed by Nike before and Nike was one of the first to pull away–matter of fact they pulled a shoe virtually off the shelves when his legal issues really came to a head,” said Mahan. “I think it’s still going to be a wait and see for some of those bigger national brands.”
John Lord, the chair of the marketing department at St. Joseph’s University, said since this company is not a household name, it has little to lose even if the deal with Vick draws some negative publicity.
“In the overall field of endorsements, it’s a small step because it’s a relatively small unknown company, so it’s not a great risk for them,” said Lord. “But for this company it might be a big step in terms of the publicity they’re gonna get. To me it’s kind of the next logical progression in the reclamation of Michael Vick’s reputation and legacy.”
The Humane Society of the United States recently used money from the Eagles to help launch an Anti-dogfighting Campaign in Philadelphia.
Vick has been speaking to youth about treating animals properly.