By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
March 16, 2011: Despite the on-going and escalating problems between the NFL and the NFL Players Assn., marketers are trying to keep it business as usual in as many areas as they can.
On the heels of unveiling the largest campaign in company history, adidas said it has formed "partnerships" with five top NFL prospects: defensive back Prince Amukamara of Nebraska, running back DeMarco Murray of Oklahoma, wide receiver Titus Young of Boise State, tight end Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame and wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan of Troy.
Financial terms were not disclosed. The players will not officially be part of the league until the NFL draft, which is scheduled for April 28-30.
Among NFL players with adidas football marketing deals are Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs, C.J. Spiller of the Buffalo Bills, Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints, Mario Williams of the Houston Texans and Lawrence Timmons of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Adidas' Reebok division, which has been the official uniform provider of the NFL since 2001, will lose that designation beginning April 2012, at which time rival Nike moves in via a new deal signed late last year. Adidas is working now to maintain its presence in the league by signing individual players to shoe contracts.
Adidas said that the five players will be featured in adidas' marketing efforts. The initial push is being anchored online at the adidas Web site and Facebook destination, where information, photos and videos of adidas' NFL prospects are available.
Adidas did not offer additional marketing details.
The company said that adidas Football develops high-performance and lightweight football cleats, apparel and accessories for players and teams, including more than 70 collegiate football programs.
"Our NFL prospects include the fastest and most versatile players in the nation," Mark Daniels, director of football for adidas America, said in a statement. "These athletes will make immediate impacts as rookies and we want to help them play even faster by outfitting them in the best cleats."
"These athletes will make immediate impacts as rookies and we want to help them play even faster by outfitting them in the best cleats."
According to Prince Amukamara, who finished his career as a first-team All-American, Jim Thorpe Award finalist and the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year, "When I'm in man coverage or zone, I need a lightweight cleat that let's me close quickly to jump underneath routes and tackle receivers. "I've tried out the new adiZero 5-Star and they are so light that it feels like I'm not even wearing a cleat. But it also gives me the support I need to make quick cuts and start and stop on a dime."