Fastest at the Combine, Nelson didn’t get $100,000 from Adidas


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, 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?

46 responses to “Fastest at the Combine, Nelson didn’t get $100,000 from Adidas

  1. incredibly lame… but that pretty much sums up adidas anyway sooo…

    Yeah win win for a brand trying desperately to remain relevant…

    Y’all should stick to soccer and tennis adidas…

  2. Report: Company sets rules for paying combine runners based on times and marketing deal status with the company, then sticks to it.

    More to come at 11…

  3. I don’t know, seems pretty logical to me. Adidas wanted to give a prize to their 3 fastest endorsed athletes. JJ Nelson ran faster but he wasn’t endorsed. Adidas avoids having to give the prize money to a faster player who either ends up signing with a competitor or won’t make an NFL squad.

  4. Why are there so many people in society who play the “victim” card? The terms were clear: The contest was for those who already signed with Adidas. Yet, we have all these whiners saying he should get paid anyway, that Adidas sucks, that he got ripped off.

    I guess those are the same folks who sit around on the couch wondering why their check from the government isn’t bigger.

  5. Top draft picks would be foolish to just arbitrarily sign with Adidas for a shot at a $100,000 prize. Guys like Waynes and White have an opportunity to may way more than that just based on their perceived value and draft stock alone…and you won’t be locked into a bad deal because you wanted to make some fast cash.

    Fast guys with low stock would love to sign an endorsement deal…not sure why the more talented guys even bother.

  6. Was this a contest for the faster players at the combine or the fastest Adidas players at the combine? Sounds like this was just set up for Adidas contracted players so I do not see what the big deal is.

  7. Adidas made the awards exactly according to the terms they had announced. They have no obligation to give their money to Mr. Nelson. Apparently, they had their reasons for not wanting an endorsement deal with him.

  8. You people knokin’ adidas because of its relevance to soccer do know that there is plenty more money in European soccer than Ameican football… right? Why do you think the NFL wants in England so bad?

  9. giantsfanlewis says:
    Feb 25, 2015 11:07 AM

    This is why I like reebok


    Adidas owns Reebok

  10. Agree with the sentiment that another shoe company has a huge opportunity to make Adidas look petty – 1) sign this kid 2) pay him a large “bonus” for being the fastest at the combine 3) detail to the world the actions taken by said company to make good on adidas’s “gotcha” policy 4) Profit.

  11. If you allowed players to sign an endorsement post-40 to collect, then they wouldn’t be able to lock all of these guys up with a bad endorsement contract with the incentive of a possible bonus.

    So, as it currently is, they get a whole bunch of guys signed to bad deals with the incentive of a $300,000 pot…instead of 3 guys.

  12. I seriously doubt Adidas hid any of the terms from anyone. Having said that, it’s not really a contest that makes sense in the context of the Combine if it’s only open to paid endorsees.

  13. Bad PR for Adidas. It makes them look sneaky and petty. Nelson said it himself that he wasn’t even given a chance to sign a deal before the run. Bad play by his agent and that shoe company.

  14. Screw Adidas – I don’t like Adidas shoes, I always buy New Balance, they don’t jerk people around.

  15. Looks like Adidas has learned how to welch on deals/bets right up there with the best of them (COUGH, Aaron Rodgers, COUGH).

  16. why would they give it to somebody who could sign with another shoe company? he knew the rule before he ran it. claiming you did not know about it when you ran with their shoes is just an excuse to get the money and do what the kid did last year.

  17. What Adidas is doing is just plane old racism. Only giving money to the top fastest player discriminates against all of the slower player, who because of this reward may have their self esteem negativity effected.

  18. You know this kid’s head was swimming at the combine. Unlike the top prospects, he didn’t have anyone to guide him and likely never really had the opportunity to sign said endorsement deal. Let’s all admit it, we all wonder how our own senior managers get where they are let alone the morons leading this albatross across the finish line at Adidas! Idiots!

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