September 17, 2012 BY John Kim
It was considered a major, game-changing achievement for Nike when the Oregon-born brand won the rights to outfit all 1,696 rostered players in the NFL (53-man roster x 32 NFL teams = 1,696, right?). However, some resistance from it’s primary competitor and perennial second-place finisher adidas is still flickering a dim yet irritating light. Washington Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III and marquee adidas NFL and Training athlete is making plenty of noise in just the two weeks he’s been in the league, and we’re not just pointing out his impressive 110+ QB Rating; as we just mentioned, RGIII is an adidas athlete and made his devotion known in Week 1 by taking a Sharpie marker to his pre-game warm-up gear in an attempt to cover up the Swoosh logo. With Nike being the official outfitter of the NFL, tampering with the logo is potentially a punishable act, and without surprise RGIII coerced a statement from NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. His response to the news: “It won’t happen again”.
Only it did. Yesterday, before the Redskins took on the St. Louis Rams, RGIII did his pre-game routine wearing a grey t-shirt above his Nike-branded warm-up gear, completely shrouding any Swoosh logos on his body. Definitely a step up from graffiti-ing via permanent marker, but the effect – and response – was the same; news media definitely took notice and some sort of reaction from the NFL brass is likely to follow, possibly in the form of a dollar penalty. If so, don’t be surprised if adidas picks up that tab, much like Nike did when the NBA fined Michael Jordan for wearing his defiant Air Jordan 1s that didn’t comply with league policy. This fiasco also reminds us of another branding war that involved Nike, Reebok, and the 1992 Olympics; the Olympic warm-up apparel was issued by Reebok, but during the Gold Medal ceremony, Michael Jordan and a few Nike athletes ‘covered up’ the Reebok logo with the American flag.
Bringing the focus back to Robert Griffin III; his actions clearly display his fidelity to his significant other, but are his attempts to display brand loyalty not only futile, but foolish? For roughly thirty minutes that follow the warm-up sessions, the entire nation sees RGIII in his official NFL uniforms with the Swoosh logos on the shoulders and the snazzy Flywire collar below his neck anyway, so his actions clearly don’t send the message as loudly as he intends to (or does it?). Things will definitely get more interesting considering RGIII deliberately ignored the NFL’s warnings and continued his antics for the second week in a row, but we’d like to see things get a bit more hot if Griffin decides to take his mission to his actual on-field jersey. Your thoughts on RGIII making this type of noise off the field? Do you think he should take a page of out MJ’s book and go completely rogue with his on-field uniforms, or will swift action by the NFL cause the adidas athlete to play ‘by the rules’?
Tags: Robert Griffin III