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Nike: The Michael Vick Dilemma

I play tennis, and I wear Wilson shoes exclusively. I love the shoes, they’re lightweight and durable and perfect for tennis. I also wear Nike skirts and tops. My kids have Nike shoes.

Earlier this week Vick’s agent announced that Nike had a deal with Michael Vick. I immediately went to and penned this letter:

Customer (Jessica Gottlieb) – 09/30/2009 04:16 PM
When you decided to give money to an animal abuser and a sociopath, you lost my business. There is no way that I will let my children will your products, and I am giving my tennis outfits to charity.

I’m sad about it, I love wearing your clothing, but your decision is outrageous.

I got this reply:

Response to your email: (Jeff) – 10/01/2009 09:31 AM
Thank you for your email.  Nike does not have a contractual relationship with Michael Vick.  We have agreed to supply product to Michael Vick as we do a number of athletes who are not under contract with Nike.

Thank you again for your feedback.



It was an honest response, and I do appreciate that Nike isn’t giving Michael Vick any money, but I think I’m still off the brand.

I had a discussion with the kids about Michael Vick and the fact that he has killed and tortured animals. I won’t give them details, because I don’t want them to have nightmares. Regardless of Vick serving his sentence, paying fines or any other sort of restitution, he’s a man who killed dogs with his bare hands. When he wasn’t killing dogs he was making them kill one another. When Michael Vick wasn’t making dogs kill one another, he was paying other men to do that job for him.

He is not a good man.

He is not a role model.

Nike needs kids, Nike doesn’t need me, they need Jane and Alexander. I’ll buy the cutest clothes and the best shoes regardless of which celebrity is wearing them. My kids are another story. My kids identify with brands, and want to be like the stars who wear them.

I’m raising really great kids and I’ve asked them how they feel about Nike now that they’re giving Michael Vick free shoes. It’s not about a boycott, it’s not about bullying a brand, it’s about empowering my children and asking them really tough questions.

The question is: Are you willing to stop wearing a brand you enjoy when they align themselves with a cruel human being?

My children delighted me today. They don’t want to be like Michael Vick.

11 thoughts on “Nike: The Michael Vick Dilemma”

  1. On some level I almost want to argue that the man has served his time, but I haven’t really kept up with the story, haven’t really listened to him talk, so I don’t know if I feel as though he gets why what he did was wrong.

    On another level, I have to wonder what sort of background he has, where he’s coming from. Was he raised in such a way that the dog fighting and the abuse were considered normal? That certainly excuses nothing, but I feel it could possibly at least give some counterpoint to the situation. Again, not to justify anything, but a lot of animal cruelty in the name of sport is considered a normal part of some cultures.

    I’ve never really been a football fan, but I grew up in Atlanta and would have been a Falcons fan if I cared. Right before Vick was caught I happened to catch some of his games and was astounded at his abilities and actually nearly began to enjoy the game if for no other reason than watching him play. In light of all that’s happened, what we’ve come to know was happening, I have to wonder if this is another story that we aren’t discussing. When kids show that kind of talent for sports do we focus as much on other parts of being human, or do we too often let the talent supersede everything else? I’m sure we all know of stories of sports stars who are able to get by with and hide from the public myriad indiscretions or outright crime, things that get overlooked because we focus too much on the talent and the ability. I live in a college town that lives for football, and it seems once a year someone does something for which they don’t get in nearly enough trouble because of their status or possible future stardom.

    1. This wasn’t just dogfighting, and it wasn’t just shooting dogs in the head. This was prolonged torture. I have worked with pit bulls and I have seen fighting dogs rehabbed and fighters rehabbed, and I have seen and talked to young men who were brought up with the background that fighting was normal.

      I am NOT condoning dogfighting in the least, but I have yet to meet someone from the culture who think that torture is ever justified or normal, . That’s the core issue (for me, at least, as a pit bull owner and someone who works to have positive change for the breed.)

      The level of sheer cruelty that he himself inflicted is mind-boggling.

      Jess, you’ve got a big microphone here and I appreciate you using it. Daisy J. Dog feels the same. ;)


  2. This is a great post. Michael Vick is, as far as I’m concerned, the scum of the Earth. I wrote a note much like yours was he was reinstated, but to the NFL. My relationship to professional football is over because of this man.

  3. I wont quit Nike. I can’t even get into the complexities that is the Vick controversy. I truly believe in repenting, forgiving and forgetting. The dog massacre is disgusting, so very, very true. Now, I won’t be sporting any Vick jersey’s or anything…..I’m more likely to stop buying Kanye’s music because of his VMA debacle.

    1. How can you compare Vick and Kanye? Killing dogs and being extremely rude to a young lady are on such different playing fields! I don’t think you really understand what this disgusting male (can’t even call the scumbag a man) did to these poor helpless animals. Please reflect on your opinion and imagine if he did this to your family pet or even child would it be forgivable ? Would you be so eager to forget?

  4. i’m glad to hear that no money is being given to that scum. BUT. free merchandise is?
    anyway. just like i won’t stop eating nestle, i won’t stop buying my kids nike. i will make them aware though. but me, i love my avia.

  5. Living in Virginia, I’ve followed Vick’s case closely. My poor boyfriend was beside himself when it looked like the Redskins were going to sign him. He was even more disturbed that sports loving friends weren’t alarmed.

    He has been a trouble maker since college (and probably before). He may have served his debt to society as a judge deemed fit, but I find it hard to believe he is rehabilitated. He probably had plenty of time to regret funding a dog fighting operation, but what about the depravity that allowed him to hurt and kill animals? The guy needs counseling. The disregard for life that was shown is pretty shocking.

    I am off any brand that comes close to Vick. I know he is working with the HSUS, but he’ll have to do more than a few press conferences to redeem himself in my mind.

  6. Every time I see a football player on a PSA about domestic violence, I wonder if that’s part of community service hours. An unfair assumption probably, but that’s what I always think.
    Our family doesn’t follow sports, and part of the reason is because I disagree that any of them should be seen as role models. A great jump shot doesn’t translate into a good person, you know? And while sure, we admire some actors’ work (and looks :), I try to keep my children away from the idea that it means they’re good people. I try to make it very clear that they love the character, or the portrayal of the character, but we really don’t know the person.

  7. I don’t know. There is the larger issue that the NFL routinely (it seems) reinstates players with criminal histories and questionable morals. Vick wouldn’t be playing at all if the NFL didn’t see dollar signs. Nike is beside the larger question, in my opinion, which is do we allow our children to support a sport/profession that is okay with felons so long as they put people in seats and sell merchandise?

    And what about other entertainments? Music, television and movies?

    A second chance is not why Vick is being allowed to play. The NFL can still use him. If they couldn’t, he wouldn’t have been reinstated. There is no altruism here.

  8. Vick is lower than the congress people we have, which is saying something. Nike doesn’t care about anything but money – like most companies now. I will never purchase Nike and will talk them down to all I can.

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