The League

Nathan Whitaker
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Nathan Whitaker

The co-author of three New York Times bestsellers and lawyer for college and professional football coaches.

Not All Humane Societies

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Can Nike, or any company for that matter, endorse Michael Vick, or would the appearance of forgiveness carry too high a price? For now, I expect that an endorsement of Michael Vick is probably not in the immediate future.

Nike's response, Thursday, that it had not yet endorsed Vick is certainly not surprising. Look, if nothing else, it's too much, too soon. The passions surrounding him and his actions have been, well, passionate. To advertisers that are understandably sensitive to "Q-ratings" and other metrics that attempt to measure the familiarity and likability of celebrities, the decision to align oneself with Mike Vick will be a difficult one to reach. If it's ever reached at all.

At the end of the day, most public, for-profit corporations like Nike exist for their shareholders. Forgiveness or any other human virtue falls farther down their list of priorities, if it exists anywhere. They must determine if an association with Vick will have a positive or negative net effect on shareholder value.

Contrast this with an organization like the Humane Society, which exists for its message. To further that message, the Humane Society and its President, Wayne Pacelle, are hoping that Vick's story of personal change is authentic, long-lasting and absolute. In that regard, they have enlisted him in furthering that message to reach people they cannot through their End Dogfighting campaign. I'm sure that Pacelle, while taking his courageous stand to enlist Vick and embrace the twin messages of forgiveness and personal change for Vick, realizes that he needs to carefully monitor Vick in the process. Trust, but verify, as they say, to ensure that the change is authentic while continuing to press ahead for the good of the message.

Maybe a smaller company than Nike will take a gamble that Vick's support within the general population will eventually return. I anticipate that most companies, like Nike, will wait for time to pass and for Vick to continue to prove himself. That's both understandable and prudent.

But where the message itself is the ultimate goal, we see action. Action while watching, trusting and verifying but not waiting. There are too many dogs counting on the Humane Society's campaign for that.

By Nathan Whitaker  |  October 2, 2009; 1:06 PM ET  | Category:  Michael Vick , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Earn Endorsements on the Field | Next: How Much Has Brett Helped the Vikings?

Comments

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I think Michael Vick is going to have to do a heck of a lot to redeem himself, even if that's possible. He shouldn't be allowed to make a few scripted public service announcements regarding animal cruelty. He needs to get down in the trenches and actually work with and raise money for the organizations that serve to protect animals, be it dogs, cats, horses, elephants, whales, etc. Let him become an active member of Peta for a few years, or Greenpeace, or the SPCA,or the Humane Society, or all of them -- always monitered, of course.

Posted by: Irelandawn | October 2, 2009 11:38 PM

Wat a bunch of racist garbage. You are a hypocrite.

Posted by: TackleBack22 | October 3, 2009 1:18 PM

Vick should be total banned and banished from the sport. I, for one, will prohibit my children from supporting any sponsor/product of Michael Vick. He is not one to be paraded in rornt of our youth as someone to idolize. My donations for animals go to other organizations rather than the Human Society. They caved...

Posted by: vtcxc | October 5, 2009 9:11 AM

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