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Roger Federer and Michael Jordan "are now business partners," as Federer during his first-round U.S. Open match against Marinko Matosevic last night debuted the Air Jordan Hybrid R.F. shoe, according to ESPN's Chris Fowler. Jordan, who attended his first tennis match last night, said of Federer, “He’s done a lot of input in it. One of my shoes was his favorite, which was the (Air Jordan III). I told Roger when they first came up with the idea, I said, ‘Look, as long as you have input, you control it. I know nothing about tennis and most importantly it has to be functional.’ ... He took it to heart and he actually got involved in it. I was very surprised, the shoe looks very nice." Jordan sat in Federer's box, and ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez asked him, “You know that Roger, when he goes to hit his overhead, gets a little hang time, a la Michael Jordan. Is this shoe going to help him a little extra?" Jordan replied, “I don’t know about that, but he is a good athlete." He added, "I’ve seen a lot of tennis on TV, but you never really understand how smooth, how relaxed and how fundamentally sound that he can make this game look. He looks good in the shoe without a doubt, but he makes the shoes look a lot better." Federer following the match said, "Michael was my hero of all sports, so for having him here is unbelievably special and the collaboration is unique, so I love it” (“U.S. Open,” ESPN, 8/26). GQ's Jake Woolf noted the latest colorway of Federer's Tour Vapor 9 "features Nike's iconic elephant print, which was first seen" on the Air Jordan III in '88 (GQ.com, 8/25).
STAR STRUCK: In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun writes Federer's opening-round opponent Marinko Matosevic at one point last night was "waving and pointing" at Jordan, and "might have momentarily forgotten that he was still in a match, still on center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium." Matosevic, pointing toward Jordan during the match, yelled, "I want to be like Mike!" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/27).
The Lions yesterday announced a multiyear deal with Michigan-based Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center to serve as the title sponsor for the new college football bowl game at Ford Field. This year's game, which pits the ACC against the Big Ten, takes place Dec. 26 at 4:30pm ET. The Lions join the Texans as the only two NFL teams to host and operate a bowl game (Lions). In Detroit, Bill Shea noted Quick Lane includes "more than 700 auto service outlets created by Ford Motor Co. for its Ford and Lincoln dealerships." Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. A source said that Quicken Loans "was interested in being the bowl’s title sponsor, but a deal couldn’t be worked out." The new game "supplants the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which will not be played this year." That game, which leased Ford Field, "previously had been called the Motor City Bowl" when it launched in '97 at the Pontiac Silverdome. Quick Lane will "use the new bowl as a marketing opportunity." Ford VP & President of Global Ford Customer Service Frederiek Toney said, "We’re hoping to continue to raise awareness among consumers for the fast service, value and convenience our Quick Lanes deliver" (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 8/26). Learn more about the Quick Lane Bowl at Resource Guide LIVE.
SON OF A SON OF A SAILOR: Popeyes Louisiana Chicken yesterday announced it will title sponsor for the new bowl game debuting this year in the Bahamas. The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, which will be played Dec. 24 in Nassau, features Conference USA and MAC teams and will be televised on ESPN. This marks the first time the QSR has sponsored a bowl game (Popeyes).
Competitor Group, which owns the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, has "signed a deal with Mazda, making the auto manufacturer an official partner for all North American races," according to Fred Dreier in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal is valued in the "mid-to-high six-figure range and runs through this year’s final 12 North American events." The partnership also includes "all 24 North American Rock ’n’ Roll events" in '15." It represents a "step forward for Competitor Group, which had been without a serieswide auto sponsor" since '11, when Dodge did not renew its deal. Mazda will receive "advertising space across Competitor Group’s various digital and print media assets, which include Competitor Magazine and Competitor.com." The automaker's activation includes the "creation of a team of amateur athletes who will participate in the races, as well as a partnership" with runner Dorothy Beal. She "operates the popular 'Mile Posts' running blog" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/25 issue).
In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes tennis player Eugenie Bouchard "must be very, very careful" during the U.S. Open because her handlers "are dressing her in skin-tight tennis dresses that appear exceedingly uncomfortable in the baking sun of Flushing Meadows." Bouchard "is already the attractive face of women’s athletics in Canada," so she "really ought to have a sit-down" with Maria Sharapova about balancing commercial and media opportunities with her tennis (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/27).
MY MARIA: ABC's Rebecca Jarvis last night examined the U.S. Open and noted the event is where "glitz and glam meet serves and sweat." She noted Sharapova due to her "supermodel looks and killer strokes ... has been No. 1 on Forbes' list of top-paid female athletes for 10 years in a row." Her on-court success has "catapulted her into a fashion icon and businesswoman," and she "helped sketch her own Nike dress for the Open." Sharapova said, "I've always enjoyed seeing something come alive from nothing, whether it's an idea or an object" ("Nightline," ABC, 8/26).
SERVICE POINT: ADWEEK's Lauren Johnson noted the USTA "is getting high tech in order to move merchandise and memorabilia for this year's U.S. Open." The organization has created a section "within the Open’s website that pulls in user-generated content tagged with tournament-themed hashtags and keywords from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine." A system "built into the site detects clothing and other products in a picture and then matches it up with merchandise." A "Shop now" button "next to each photo links to the USTA’s e-commerce site, where consumers can buy the product" (ADWEEK.com, 8/26).