The endorsement is the latest step forward for Vick as he seeks to rehabilitate his career and his image after serving 18 months in federal prison. On Sunday, Vick played his first regular-season game since December 2006.
"It is quite evident that athletes that run afoul of the law are by no means relegated to obscurity when it comes to pitching products," said David Carter, a professor of sports marketing at the University of Southern California.
Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 13. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave him his full reinstatement Sept. 3, saying he could return to the field in Week 3.
Nike, which signed Vick as a rookie in 2001, terminated his contract in August 2007 after theAtlanta Falcons star filed a plea agreement admitting his involvement in the dogfighting ring. At the time, Nike called cruelty to animals "inhumane, abhorrent and unacceptable" and halted release of his fifth signature shoe, the Air Zoom Vick V.
Back when Vick first signed with the Eagles, Carter had said he was "too toxic for most companies to even consider taking a chance on him." What's changed? As Carter noted Wednesday, there has been little backlash to the quarterback's return to the NFL.
Protests have been limited, and the Eagles' sponsors have stood by them. That experience could make companies less wary about adding Vick as an endorser, though the biggest determinant might be no different from any other athlete: how well he performs on the field.