Exploring Reebok’s curious decision to sell Tebow jerseys


The fact that a federal judge imposed last night a temporary restraining order blocking Reebok from selling Jets jerseys bearing Tim Tebow’s name means that Nike made a sufficiently compelling case in its initial paperwork to persuade the court that Reebok had no legal right to use Tebow’s name, even though Reebok holds the NFL license until April 2.

The league finally has acknowledged the TRO by removing on Thursday morning the ability to buy Reebok replica Tebow jerseys from NFLShop.com.

So how did it get to this point?  The talk in industry circles is that, because Reebok terminated its NFL employees earlier this year, Reebok simply didn’t have anyone with a proper understanding of the nuances of the contracts to stand up and say, “We no longer have the right to use Tebow’s name.”

The fact that Reebok made no effort to sell Broncos jerseys featuring Peyton Manning’s name and number, however, suggests that someone within the company realized that there was an issue, given that (as Nike alleges) the NFLPA group license expired on March 1 and Manning has no individual deal with Nike.  (NFLShop.com has been selling Manning jerseys made by neither Nike nor Reebok.)  Thus, if incompetence were the explanation, Reebok would have sold Manning jerseys, too.

And so it appears that Reebok took a calculated risk, opting to seek forgiveness in lieu of approval.  That risk is blowing up in Reebok’s face, with Nike motivated to ensure that Reebok ultimately realizes no profit from its efforts.

Then again, Reebok is getting plenty of free advertising — even though the brand currently is being cast in a negative light.  Still, the folks who bought the jerseys now have a piece of memorabilia that will forever display the Reebok logo.

We’ll have more on the situation during Thursday’s PFT Live, when CNBC’s Darren Rovell joins the show to talk about how this happened and where it all goes from here.

10 responses to “Exploring Reebok’s curious decision to sell Tebow jerseys

  1. Still waiting for all the clueless people to start their arguments for why Reebok was in the right.

  2. Did anyone see the press conference where Tebow is holding a Jets jersey? IT WAS A REEBOK JETS JERSEY! HELD (ENDORSED) BY TEBOW! Nike sucks.

  3. Why would an incompetent company be consistent in its incompetence. Incompetence implies that the bad work might not be consistent either.

  4. I’m not buying the “it’s good cause it’s free advertising” angle. Reebok is a successful global brand, they don’t need this kind of PR. In fact, it might hurt them when they try to re-up their deals with other leagues in the future.

  5. Why did anyone buy them anyway? All football fans know Nike is taking over next week, and do u need a jersey that bad. Bedsides who wants a jersey of a back up.

  6. Was wondering last night if Tebow become the next big thing in NY, that Reebok version might be collectible. But Tebow would have to win the Superbowl twice. Not willing to put that on the line. He’s a gamer tough

  7. Dah, To make a buck would be my guess. I’m really getting sick of all the Tebone BS on this site. If it were not for the Denver defense this guy would be out of football right now. He’s a below average NFL QB people. When was the last time you heard of an NFL qb only completing 2 passes in a game?
    There are 40 other OB’s in the NFL better than Tebone,(counting some other backups) but this is what we keep getting crammed down our throats. I am going to start looking elsewhere to get news about the NFL.

  8. You’re wrong Bigblue1212 Nike doesn’t suck there awesome glad NFL saw fit and ditch Reebok for Nike which is the best. You must have cared Trollhammer20 you clicked the headline.

    Reebok took a chance and lost they knew that they were going to lose and glad the judge saw it that way. Reebok just wanted to make a quick buck that is all.

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