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Padding Michael Vick, and his bank account

Michael Vick’s first post-prison endorsement contract — with a company called Unequal Technologies — appears to already be paying dividends, both for the quarterback and the company.

Vick, in exchange for a piece of the company,  is now shilling for Unequal, which makes protective padding for athletes, designed to help prevent injuries among those who take part in contact sports — dogfighting, of course, not included.

For Vick, who once raked in $7 million a year in endorsements, the contract puts him back on the lucrative path of touting products for pay — and, though it’s not quite on level of Nike and Coke, it’s another step, as he sees it, to redeeming his image, left tarnished by a dogfighting scandal and prison term. He also reveals, in this interview, that he has a “V 7” shoe and clothing line in the works.

For Unequal Technologies, teaming up with the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback meant an immediate burst of publicity and a huge surge in sales. Chief Executive Rob Vito said within a day of Vick’s signing, there were 10 million hits on Unequal Technologies website. “The sales went up 1,000% when Mike came on board,” he said, adding that they are still about triple what they were a year ago.

The company declined to disclose the terms of the agreement, but both Vito and Vick, in this interview with the Wall Street Journal, say the quarterback was given a share in the company, as opposed to a flat fee.

In the wide-ranging interview, Vick seems to contradict himself several times. He says he doesn’t read newspaper accounts about himself,  then says he reads them before games because their negativity motivates him. He says he’s not a Christian, but that his connection with God is “uncanny”.

He says he wouldn’t change anything about his life, except maybe shortening his prison sentence, from 18 months to five months. His dogfighting conviction and imprisonment, he says, led to an opportunity to read, and work on improving himself.

“Because I handled it so well, I think that’s why the Lord is continuing to bless me,” he says.

Vick points out that his work with the Humane Society of the United States on an anti-dogfighting campaign is voluntary — not part of his sentence: “It is my biggest cause right now … eradicating dogfighting …. It’s something I want kids to stay away from. It’s another opportunity to go out and teach our youth what’s right.

The company’s relationship with Vick started last fall, after the quarterback injured his ribs. Unequal, which claims its pads, made of Kevlar, can absorb up to 80% of the “chronic impact shock” from hits, designed a chest protector for Vick, and later a helmet that it says reduces the risk of concussion. 

Vick, after wearing the protective gear in a game against the Indianapolis Colits, said it made him feel invincible on the field.

In November, Vick’s manager phoned Unequal Chief Executive Rob Vito, asking about the possibility of becoming Unequal’s officials spokesman. Vito took the idea to his advisory board, which he said led to a heated boardroom discussion.

“One of our consultants said we would be committing ‘business suicide’ if we hired Michael Vick. We’re a small company. We can’t afford that kind of backlash, where a Dick’s Sporting Goods or a Modell’s says, ‘Hey, because you have Michael Vick, we’re not going to carry you in our stores.'”

But apparently a tainted “name,” was better than no name at all.

Under the two-year contract, Vick will wear Unequal’s apparel at six public appearances, the first of which will be in June at the National Athletic Training Association meeting. The company, during the terms of the contract, has the right to use Vick’s image in its marketing.

As Vito sees it,  Vick has paid his dues. “There are some people out there that won’t forgive him even if does 100 years in jail. There will always be that 2 percent or 3 percent, that no matter what you do, you’ll never be good enough.”


Comment from CeliaSue Hecht
Time April 18, 2011 at 7:11 am

good post. yeah, uncanny how money walks and talks louder than the sickening sounds of dogs he brutally killed with his bare hands. but then don’t listen to me, I’m just one of those silly 2% that don’t count.


Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time April 18, 2011 at 8:17 am

As we have stated here before, MV has repeatedly confessed that he would still be fighting dogs had the law not intervened in that lucrative adventure. Hell, who knows for certain that he is still not involved in the activity that he so loved and has yet to repudiate?! There simply is no re-making and polishing of an image when the apple’s core remains rotten. He is a nauseating opportunist whose business partners, including the Eagles, capitalize on his notoriety to entice a violence-loving culture. I hope I live long enough to one day see MV meet his “uncanny connection” with the Devil.

Comment from White Cat
Time April 18, 2011 at 8:20 am

Good for him! I can’t understand how people can say they will never forgive him, but forgive there forefathers for the killings, beatings and hangings of countless humane beings!

Research has shown that people who are unable to forgive and harbour feelings of hate, are likely to encounter health problems down the road! Quite frankly, it’s bad for the spirit and your body!

Good luck Vick and keep doing it with a smile!

Comment from sisko
Time April 18, 2011 at 8:22 am

He’s quite a guy isn’t he. All I can do at this point is shake my head

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time April 18, 2011 at 8:33 am

It really is all about the money in this country, isn’t it? How pathetic.
I suppose there is a certain element who is always going to overlook the horrendous history of Michael Vick either because he’s a good football player, or because he’s their personal ‘sports hero’. Those people are obviously clueless and irredeemably lost. But for a Company to hitch it’s wagon to Vick’s star is simply inexcusable. What, your product isn’t good enough to stand on its own? You can’t think of any better way to prove your products worth or stimulate sales?
As for Vick himself, he’s about as transparent as they come. It’s not that I’m a “hater”, I don’t hate any one. But I do know the difference between sincerity and obfuscation, between seeing the true error of one’s ways and mouthing the correct platitudes. Look into the camera Mike, and tell the world how horrible you feel about what you did to those defenseless dogs you so gleefully murdered, and then we’ll see. So far, all you’ve done is talk about how sorry you are to have been caught, and the damage it did to your career and your finances. It’s blatantly obvious that you still believe you did nothing wrong, that you were simply an innocent product of your back-woods “culture”. Sorry buddy, but that doesn’t cut it, and it never will. The Philadelphia Eagles organization didn’t get it, and apparently, neither does Unequal Technologies. Enjoy the money folks, and then look into the innocent eyes of your pets and tell them how much you love them. Hypocrites.

Comment from alberta
Time April 18, 2011 at 9:17 am

what is wrong with people , paying michael vick, the dog killer!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment from Margaret Poclicii
Time April 18, 2011 at 9:33 am

What Michael Vick did was without a question wrong and distasteful to say the least, but it is over and it is time to heal and move on and see what we can do together to stop this act of violence. I don’t believe in violence of any type animals and especially humans. I have a bird, and a dog have alway had animals around my life but it is time to let the man prove to us he is genuine in what he is doing. I don’t care if he is sorry that he got caught or if he is sorry he did the act I just don’t care about that I am thankful he stopped and is doing the work he is doing. These kids are not going to listen to me a 60 year old woman about dog fighting but they will listen to him let us let him teach them. I understand what he means when he says he is not a christian I don’t call myself that anymore and have not for over 15 years, I am a believer in the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Most people that call themselves christians today are the most hateful, unforgiving people in this world so sadly that word has lost what its real meaning should be. As long as this man leads a responsible life in society and keeps his fight against dogfighting alive I forgave him and moved on. I don’t want to see any harm done to him or wish any ill will on him. If we are suppose to be better than him why would we do that. How can you tell a person that they have no compassion when we show none ourselves. I wish him well in his journey to save more dogs than he harmed and that is what we all should want if this is truly about saying dogs and not about trying to destroy a man.

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time April 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

By way of making myself crystal clear, what we are doing here is sending the WRONG MESSAGE:
“It’s OK to commit crimes against defenseless animals, as long as you have talent America just doesn’t care.”
Sad, very sad. Wake up America, before it’s too late.

Comment from Peta Pocket
Time April 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Vick does more for animal welfare by education children with the End Dogfighting campaign in a year than most animal activists do in a lifetime.

Comment from Dan the Man
Time April 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Did you guys know that Jesus had a disciple named Paul that was a known murderer of Christians?

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time April 19, 2011 at 8:26 am

@Dan – Yeah, we know. We also know that Paul repented his sins. Big difference.
The work being done by Vick to combat dog fighting is helpful in so far as it’s bringing much needed attention to the problem. However, it would be of considerably more benefit if he actually MEANT what he was saying. Vick clearly has no empathy for dogs. For me at least, that is a huge problem. The guy is simply not credible.

Comment from Ricki
Time April 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm

It is important to understand who is benefiting the most from the return of michael vick who they use….

Comment from Anonymous
Time April 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I actually agree with Margaret on this one. Michael Vick did horrible things. But so did many others, such as Ben Roethlisberger, and they were all forgiven. I think Vick has attempted to right the wrongs that he committed, and should therefore be forgiven.

Comment from Pat DeWald
Time April 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

It’s true that the school kids probably would listen to him more than someone like me. But then, what are they listening too? The fact that he wouldn’t change anything about his life except to have a shorter prison sentence? The fact that it’s important to not get caught? I would find it much easier to forgive MV if he found it impossible to forgive himself.