Saturday, July 28, 2007
Nike suspended its lucrative contract with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick yesterday and Reebok took the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his No. 7 jersey.
Facing protests from animal-rights groups, Nike announced it was suspending Vick's endorsement deal without pay. It also is halting sales of Vick-related shoes and other products at its retail stores.
Reebok, the official uniform supplier of the NFL, said it would stop selling Vick's replica jersey at stores and through its Web site.
The moves came one day after Vick pleaded not guilty to federal dogfighting charges in Richmond.
"Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick, and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent," Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer said in a statement.
Because Vick has not been convicted of any crime, Nike left open the door to resume its business relationship if he's acquitted.
Vick is barred from the Falcons' training camp while the league investigates his actions for possible violations of its personal conduct policy.
Meantime, it appears one of Vick's co-defendants doesn't want to wait for trial. A plea agreement hearing has been scheduled for Tony Taylor at 9 a.m. Monday.
Taylor's hearing was added to U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson's docket a day after he and the other three defendants pleaded not guilty before the same judge.
Prosecutors claim Taylor, 34, found the Surry County property purchased by Vick and used it as the site of "Bad Newz Kennels," a dogfighting enterprise. The Hampton man also allegedly helped purchase pit bulls and killed at least two dogs that fared poorly in test fights.
· GIANTS: Defensive end Michael Strahan failed to report to training camp and he is mulling retirement, his agent told the team.
"He is not here," Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said after Strahan failed to report with veterans and rookies to the University at Albany. "[Thursday] night I talked to his agent [Tony Agnone] and his agent said . . . that he is contemplating retirement. That's all I know right now."
Neither Reese nor Coach Tom Coughlin has contacted Strahan. The Giants placed Strahan on their reserve-did not report to camp list, Reese said, adding that Agnone did not say why Strahan was considering retirement.
· DOLPHINS: Speedy rookie Ted Ginn Jr. agreed to terms on a five-year deal worth more than $13 million. His deal means the team will have all 87 players signed when training camp opens today.
All 10 draft picks are under contract -- a change from the past two years, when Miami's top choices held out and missed the start of camp.
· COWBOYS: Terrell Owens is healthy, happy and ready for a calm second season in Dallas.
"I'm feeling good, looking good -- so I've got to play good," he said.
In May, Owens caught passes at the team's first offseason minicamp despite having a doctor's note to be on the sideline because he was coming off two surgeries on his right ring finger. He stepped things up this summer, spending more time with his trainer, lifting weights and watching his diet.
· PATRIOTS: Randy Moss was a popular attraction for the huge crowd of fans who showed up to watch the team's first practice. But they didn't see Asante Samuel or Brandon Meriweather, two defensive backs involved in contract disputes.
Samuel is holding out after being offered $7.79 million as a franchise player but not the long-term contract he wanted. Meriweather, the Patriots' first-round pick out of Miami, is their only unsigned draft choice.
Donte Stallworth, one of several new wide receivers acquired in the offseason, did not practice, and Coach Bill Belichick indicated his absence was related to a physical issue.
· RAMS: Marc Bulger's statistics put him in the top tier of NFL quarterbacks. Now he will be paid accordingly. The team signed him to a six-year, $65 million contract extension that makes him the highest-paid player in franchise history.
· TEXANS: Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, the youngest player taken in the first round since the AFL-NFL merger in 1967, signed a $17.6 million deal and was on the field for the first day of training camp. Okoye turned 20 last month.
The Texans also signed wide receiver Keenan McCardell, an unrestricted free agent who was released by San Diego.
· PANTHERS: Offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges was suspended for the first two games of the regular season. He was arrested on Thursday and charged with a misdemeanor assault.