Hopefully, Adidas believes that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
The company that offered $100,000 to the three fastest runners at the Scouting Combine included a caveat to the deal: The players had to have already signed an endorsement deal with Adidas.
Via Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, former UAB receiver JJ Nelson ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash in Adidas shoes. It was the fastest 40 of the Combine, but Nelson hadn’t signed an endorsement deal with Adidas. Nelson, who is expected to be a late-round pick at best, said he never was given a chance to sign an endorsement deal.
“I signed some waiver at some point, but I was never given a chance to sign an endorsement deal,” Nelson told Rovell.
Nelson also explained that he chose Adidas shoes for his 40-yard dash because of the $100,000 offer.
The prize this year went to three players, all of whom previously signed with Adidas and each of whom ran more slowly than Nelson: Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (4.31 seconds), Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett (4.33 seconds), and West Virginia receiver Kevin White (4.35 seconds).
Per Rovell, Adidas altered the $100,000 offer this year because Saints receiver Brandin Cooks won the prize in 2014, and then he signed with Nike. The more logical approach would have been to require the fastest players to sign with Adidas after running the 40-yard dash; that way, Nelson would have gotten the money.
It’s hard not to wonder whether Adidas realized that it should be selective regarding the endorsement deals offered prior to the Scouting Combine, gravitating toward players it deems to be the most marketable and avoiding those who may have a hard time qualifying for a 53-man roster.
So that’s the question for Adidas. Did Nelson have a fair chance to sign an endorsement deal, or did Adidas avoid him because of his perceived draft stock?