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Volume 20 No. 42
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Good Luck: QB, Nike near deal

Likely No. 1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck is close to signing a multiyear footwear and apparel deal with Nike, numerous industry sources said last week. A source close to the deal said that an agreement in principle with the Stanford quarterback was reached in late February, with a final contract expected to be signed shortly.

Stanford is a Nike school, so Luck is used to wearing a swoosh.
The move comes as Nike assumes NFL on-field apparel rights April 1 for the next five years, taking over from Reebok.

Luck will be the lead athlete for Nike’s marketing efforts in and around the April NFL draft, and may also take part in a launch of Nike’s NFL uniforms, which are expected to be shown to NFL owners at their March meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., and revealed publicly for the first time in April.

“There’s a reason Luck is a consensus No. 1 pick,” said the source, adding that an ad shoot is expected sometime this month.

Luck is represented by Wasserman Media Group’s Will Wilson, his uncle. At the Super Bowl, Wilson was asked how many deals were likely for Luck before the draft. “We’ll look at the obvious categories, like footwear and trading cards/memorabilia first, but our mantra with Andrew is that less is more,” Wilson said. “We will build a measured plan, most of which will take place after the draft.’’

Wilson was not asked specifically about a possible Nike deal.

This is one of the most quarterback-heavy NFL drafts in years. Luck is often characterized as Peyton Manning “with speed,” while Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III is said to have Michael Vick’s speed, but considerably more size.

On and off the field, the battle between Luck and “RG3” will be intriguing, as each is expected to be a franchise player. Stanford is a Nike school, so Luck is used to wearing a swoosh. Griffin recently signed with Adidas, but he wore Nike at Baylor.

“From the outside, and without knowing where Griffin will play, I’m a little more attracted to him from a marketing perspective, because of his athletic ability in and out of football, and because the teams that have shown interest in trading for the right to choose him, like Washington and Miami, are high-visibility marketers,” said David Pace, a former Reebok marketer, now an independent consultant. “Either will be the face of franchise soon.’’

“The fact [that Griffin] is a multisport athlete was attractive to us, since we’re a multisport brand looking at an Olympic year,” said David Baxter, Adidas vice president of sport performance. “He’s just an explosive athlete, so we can use him across multiple platforms, and someone who will add to our credibility.”

Adidas has a roster of about 20 NFL players, including Reggie Bush. Griffin is the only quarterback in its stable. However, it no longer has NFL on-field footwear rights, so determining what its strategy will be when it comes to America’s top sports property is an interesting question.

“I don’t think it is an NFL strategy, it’s a football strategy,” Baxter said. “We want to be credible to the game and we want to be sure we are close to their athletes.”