relationships formed around teams and individual sports. In the worst-case
scenario, the fortunes and brand of an individual, team, league, or even an
entire sport may be devalued permanently.
A sample of individual cases originating in personal misconduct illustrates
the large and lasting impact of an integrity breach, accounting for a large
percentage of an individual’s net worth and imposing a significant drain on
future financial prospects.
Before his 2007 conviction for involvement in an illegal dog-fighting ring,
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was one of the NFL’s most mar-
ketable athletes. Vick had recently signed a ten-year, $130 million contract
extension, at the time the richest player contract in NFL history. He also gar-
nered a lucrative deal with Nike in addition to at least $7 million in annual
endorsements from other companies, including EA Sports, Coca-Cola, Pow-
erade, and AirTran. With his conviction, Vick forfeited future earnings from
all these sources. The Falcons sued for the return of bonus payments, with
an arbitrator eventually ruling that he would have to repay nearly $20 mil-
lion. During his two years in federal prison Vick declared bankruptcy, and the
Falcons released him.
In 2009, the 29-year-old Vick returned to the NFL as a backup quarterback for
the Philadelphia Eagles on a two-year contract worth $1.6 million in the first
year and $5.2 million in the next. Nike continued to supply him with gear,
but he had no endorsements. He played well during the 2010 season, and his
salary is likely to place him once again among the elite. The NFL and the me-
dia generally regard him as a rehabilitated offender and a positive example;
endorsement opportunities, mostly local, are trickling back in. It is far from
clear, however, that he will ever again earn significant endorsement income.
Figure 4.1 illustrates the financial impact of this episode on Vick’s future earn-
ings. Assuming that he would have completed his original Atlanta contract,
and that his endorsement earnings over the remaining 11 years of his career
would have grown at the same rate as those of comparable players (Peyton
Manning of the Indianapolis Colts), Vick would have earned an additional
$129 million. Vick’s conviction thus reduced his value by 52 per cent relative
to pre-scandal levels.
GUARDING THE GAME Preserving the Integrity of Sport
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