CNBC broke the news.
“He looks forward to a long relationship,” Woodward said of Vick. “He’s proud of the deal. I can’t tell you what the numbers are.”
Chicago attorney Andrew Stroth, a marketing expert, negotiated the contract for Vick, Woodward added. Stroth’s online bio lists basketball’s Juwan Howard and football’s Chris Zorich and Mike Singletary as clients, all of whom have strong Chicago ties.
Highlighted by Nike, Coca-Cola and EA Sports, Vick used to be an endorsement magnet. He was a Pro Bowl quarterback, and in 2004 the Atlanta Falcons made him football’s highest-paid player with a 10-year contract valued at $130 million, $37 million of which was guaranteed.
But felony convictions in 2007 related to dogfighting sent Vick to prison, his commercial partners fleeing and eventually, Vick into bankruptcy. Thanks to standard morals clauses, the contracts were easy to escape.
CNBC’s story said this likely marks the first time a company has re-signed an athlete after severing ties. Coca-Cola allowed its deal with Kobe Bryant to expire when he faced a sexual assault charge and re-hired him after the criminal case was dismissed and civil matter settled.
Rest assured, Vick doesn’t command his past endorsement dollars — Sports Illustrated ranked him the world’s sixth-highest paid athlete in 2005 at $37.1 million behind golf’s Tiger Woods, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, tennis’ Andre Agassi, basketball’s Shaquille O’Neal and boxing’s Oscar De La Hoya.
But since his 2009 release, Vick has repaired his image and resurrected his career, last season making his fourth Pro Bowl and leading the Eagles to the NFC East title.
Vick landed the first commercial contract of his second career in January, with pad manufacturer Unequal Technologies. A deal with the makers of the Core Synergy wristband followed.
But they are plankton on the endorsement food chain. Nike is a baracuda and adds Vick to a lineup that includes football’s Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Troy Polamalu, plus basketball’s Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Bryant.
“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.”
And don’t forget the on-field component. Were Vick still backing up Donovan McNabb and/or Kevin Kolb, he wouldn’t be cashing a swoosh check. As Bryant proved in leading the Lakers to championships and helping the United States win an Olympic gold medal, success hastens forgiveness.
During an interview last month, Vick told me he is indebted to Eagles coach Andy Reid, the team's front office, his teammates, high school coach Tommy Reamon and others.
"I’m on the right track now, thanks to that group of people," Vick said. "I always believed I could get back to this point. I just needed a chance, and you never know when that chance is going to come.
"My theory is, Man fears what he can’t see. I couldn’t see it happening or when it was going to happen or where it was going to happen. The only thing I could do was wait, and being incarcerated taught me patience."