Last year, an attempt by Adidas to grab some of the Scouting Combine buzz from Under Armour backfired when receiver J.J. Nelson didn’t get the $100,000 promised to each of the three fastest runners, based on a technicality.
This year, there’s no such technicality — but the bar has been raised. This time, being the fastest won’t matter; the money gets paid only to someone who breaks the all-time Scouting Combine record of 4.24 seconds, set by Chris Johnson in 2008. But if someone sets the record, he gets not $100,000 but $1 million. If he does it wearing Adidas shoes.
Last year, Adidas paid out $100,000 each to Trae Waynes (4.31 seconds), Phillip Dorsett (4.33), and Kevin White (4.35). Under the new standard, each would have gotten nothing.
Nelson, who ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash, said he wore Adidas shoes but later learned that he wasn’t eligible because he hadn’t previously signed an endorsement deal with the company. That requirement has now been dropped; the only current requirements are: (1) wear Adidas shoes for the run; and (2) set the record. (Here’s the longer, legalese version.)
It won’t be easy. Johnson’s record has stood for eight years for a reason. So instead of definitely paying out $300,000 in exchange for a bunch of publicity, Adidas will potentially pay out nothing in exchange for a bunch of publicity. Which is always the best kind of publicity.