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Rory McIlroy, Nike sued by Oakley over contract

Oakley is suing golfer Rory McIlroy and apparel giant Nike for an alleged breach of contract. The suit, which was filed in a federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., on Dec. 10, names both McIlroy and Nike as defendants.

Details of the filing are not available through the federal court’s online system, but ESPN’s Lester Munson says Oakley alleges that McIlroy violated his contract with their company by refusing to grant them the “right of first refusal” when the golfer signed a new endorsement deal with Nike.

McIlroy reportedly signed a new deal with Nike recently that has been rumored to be for over $200 million. Oakley says its contract to provide eyewear and apparel for the top golfer runs through the end of the year, and that their counteroffer to Nike was ignored.

The right of first refusal means Oakley would have a chance to match any offer that included payments to McIlroy for eyewear and/or apparel. Its offer to match Nike’s contract with McIlroy would cost them 30% of Nike’s total deal, which might be around $60 million.

Oakley reportedly is seeking an injunction that would block the contract between McIlroy and Nike. They also claim they have spent over $300,000 on a photo shoot and promotional materials for McIlroy in 2013.

Munson reports the defense will argue that an email sent from an Oakley executive to McIlroy’s agent saying, “We are out of the mix. No contract for 2013,” means Oakley forfeited its right of first refusal.

We’re guessing the sides will eventually settle for some fee.

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Nike reportedly could sign Rory McIlroy to $250 million deal, make him their next Tiger Woods

Rory McIlroy’s contract with Titleist/Footjoy ends after the year, and there is speculation that the 23-year-old could sign a mega deal with Nike.

The Irish Times published a story on Saturday indicating that the world No. 1 golfer is likely to sign his next equipment/apparel deal with the swoosh. His agent would not comment on the speculation.

“As you are aware, Rory is under contract with Titleist,” McIlroy’s agent, Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management, told the Irish Times. “It is our policy not to pass comment regarding any industry speculation related to any of our players.”

A transition to Nike would make sense for McIlroy. The Northern Irishman won the US Open in record fashion in June 2011, and he took home his second major — the PGA Championship — in August. He passed $10 million in career earnings this year, and he is widely viewed as one of the most marketable and recognizable athletes in sports.

“McIlroy is the boy-next-door brand. The I-want-my-son-to-be-him brand,” Jordan Zimmerman of Zimmerman Advertising told ESPN in August. “That gives you an unbelievable opportunity with the mothers and dads and will also bring kids into golf earlier.”

Zimmerman also speculated that McIlroy could catch Tiger Woods in endorsement earnings.

The Irish Times says the deal McIlroy is expected to sign with Nike could rival the current one Tiger Woods has with the company. Tiger is 36 and hasn’t won a major since 2008. At 23, McIlroy has some of his best years ahead of him, and he seems to have replaced Tiger as the most feared golfer on tour. He could become the prime representative of Nike golf for the next decade.

McIlroy’s current endorsements include Jumeirah Group, Oakley, luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet, and Spanish bank Santander.

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Nike allegedly paid off cycling president to cover for Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong has been linked to performance-enhancing drug use for more than a decade, but Nike has remained by his side all throughout the years. According to a recent report in the NY Daily News, the sports apparel juggernaut did far more than just that.

Last week, the United States Anti-Doping Agency released 1,000 pages of evidence that claim Armstrong led an extremely sophisticated doping network. The evidence was released to explain why they stripped the seven-time Tour de France winner was stripped of his titles. As you know, Lance ended his fight against the doping accusations over the summer, which many considered to be an admission of guilt. Still, Nike continued to endorse him.

That all changed earlier this week when it was revealed that Kathy LeMond, the wife of American cyclist Greg LeMond, testified under oath in 2006 that Nike paid former Union Cycliste Internationale president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up one of Armstrong’s positive drug tests from 1999. The test at that time revealed Lance used a steroid called corticosteroids to treat saddle sores.

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Tom Brady covers up Nike swoosh on sweatshirt (Picture)

Robert Griffin III isn’t the only NFL quarterback concerned about protecting his sponsor. Tom Brady is in the same position.

Boston Globe Patriots reporter Shalise Manza Young tweeted a picture on Wednesday of the New England QB speaking at a press conference, and she noted that Brady had a piece of tape on his left sleeve to cover up the Nike swoosh on his sweatshirt. The reason he did it is because he endorses Under Armour products and doesn’t want to be associated with the Nike brand. Too late for that, huh?

We’ll see if Brady gets a talking to from the NFL the way RG3 did.

H/T UniWatch via Game On!
Photo via Shalise Manza Young

$300 LeBron X shoes and Nike’s evolution as a company

$300 basketball shoes.  That little notion is driving the entire sports world insane this week.

Some people are shocked about the price, as if no one has ever seen the price of a nice pair of Salvatore Ferragamos or any other finely crafted shoe with less than 10% the research and technology of the LeBron Xs. Some are questioning LeBron’s character, as if he twisted Nike’s arm and forced them to overprice his signature show in some sort of evil genius plan to make every single person on the planet buy his shoes by making them incredibly unaffordable. And there are those who are trying to defend the whole ordeal. Good luck to the latter; people still hate LeBron for no real conceivable reason.

For the purposes of my own sanity, let’s look past the LeBron vitriol and let’s just concentrate on these cutting edge shoes and their wallet-slicing price tag. The real issue here is a question of “want” vs. “need,” and more specifically, who “wants” and who “needs” these shoes.

We live in a relatively free world where no one is forced to buy anything. For everything you can buy there is always an alternative that is more affordable (or more expensive, if you desire). So why is everyone worked up over the price of these shoes? Nike isn’t forcing you to spend $300 — which by the way is only a rumored price and not Nike’s set price — and there is no prerequisite saying you need to own a pair to cheer for LeBron and the Heat. You don’t even need a pair of $300 LeBron Xs to get some run in a pick up game. You can buy brand new basketball shoes for under $50 and have just as much fun at the local courts as the guy in a pair of new Kobes. And if you shop diligently, you might even be able to pick up a pair of new Kobes for under $100.

Like I said: the choices are there, no one needs to own a pair of LeBron Xs. And if you’re still angry at Nike and LeBron, vote with your dollar and don’t buy the shoe.

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Nike’s ‘Gold Digging’ shirt labeled sexist

The 2012 London Games are being heralded as the women’s Olympics. 44% of all athletes participating in the Games were female, which is the highest it’s been. Women won the most medals for the US, China, and Russia, which were the top three medal-winning countries. 29 of the US’s 46 golds were won by women.

And how were the females rewarded? With a T-shirt from Nike that many are labeling sexist.

The shirt seen above is being sold on Nike’s online store and it has drawn criticism from different fashion blogs and Twitter users because of its dual meanings. “Gold Digging” can refer to the process of training for gold medals, but it’s also a reference to the phrase “gold digger,” which is a negative term for a woman who’s after a man for his money.

Nike was apparently hoping to receive attention for the provocative shirt. It lists the following description of the shirt on its website:

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Nike swooshes on new NFL jerseys are not backwards (Picture)

Now that Nike is the official sponsor of jerseys across the NFL, a lot of buzz has been created regarding what some perceive to be a backwards Nike swoosh symbol. If you look at the photo above, you may be inclined to say that the swoosh on Tom Brady’s jersey is backwards while the one on Drew Brees’ jersey is facing the correct way. The Twitter world was in an uproar on Thursday night with fans ripping Nike and the NFL for botching the jerseys and stitching a backwards swoosh on the right sleeve of everyone’s jersey. But the swoosh is indeed facing the right way.

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