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.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, clothing line, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, football, hsus, interview, kevlar, michael vick, nfl, padding, pets, philadelphia eagles, protection, redemption, rob vito, shoes, unequal, unequal technologies, vick