Nike courts possible No. 1 NFL Draft pick Johnny Manziel

Nike courts possible No. 1 NFL Draft pick Johnny Manziel
Nike has confirmed that projected No. 1 NFL draft pick Johnny Manziel is visiting the company's Washington County campus. (Shutterbug459, via Wikimedia Commons)

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Johnny Football is in the building. The possible No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft is visiting the Nike campus today.

A Nike spokesman confirmed Johnny Manziel, known as Johnny Football, is meeting with Nike executives, but declined to comment about the nature of the meeting.

Nike is likely making a pitch to sign Manziel, just like Under Armour did a month ago.

If so, the pitch will likely include a tour of Nike's top-secret research lab where it develops its most innovative products. Under CEO Mark Parker, Nike has spent millions to develop everything from products that help athletes run faster to those that help athletes recover quicker.

Manziel has several ties to Nike, including a deal with some of Nike athlete LeBron James' representatives for "off-field" projects. He also worked with some of the nation's top high school quarterbacks at last year's Elite 11 camp on Nike's campus.

While signing top athletes is integral to Nike's brand, endorsement deals rarely have a direct impact on the company or its stock.

"Signing (golfer) Rory McIlroy for alleged hundreds of millions wasn’t even a blip on the radar from a stock perspective," said D.A. Davidson & Co. analyst Andrew Burns, in an email. "Long-tem, it's clearly integral to the brand strategy. High-profile athletes validate the premium positioning."

Consumers buy about $300 million in football cleats in the U.S. annually, according to Matt Powell, a footwear and apparel analyst with SportsOneSource.

"Certainly having a top (and charismatic) player playing in your shoes means something, but not a huge impact," Powell said in an email, "(because) selling a lot of shoes can’t happen."

Although the market is relatively small, Nike is the dominant player, with 69 percent of the market, according to Powell's data.

Under Armour is gaining. The Baltimore-based company grabbed another 8 percentage points of the market in 2013, putting its market share at 26 percent.

Adidas ranks a distant third at 4 percent.

It's unclear if Manziel also will meet with Adidas while he's in Portland. The Germany-based company has its North American headquarters, and football division, here.

A spokeswoman declined to comment when asked if Adidas executives will meet with Manziel.

Manziel is no stranger to the Adidas brand. He played collegiately at Texas A&M, which Adidas outfits.

Manziel's social media trail doesn't give any indication of whether he's likely to endorse Nike, Under Armour or Adidas. He hasn't tweeted since declaring for the NFL draft.

Manziel's Instagram account features pictures of him in shoes and apparel from each of the big athletic brands, including a photo of Manziel in some rare Air Jordan sneakers.

Manziel is making news Wednesday for more than his meeting with Nike. The Houston Texans, which have the No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft, started following Manziel on Twitter Wednesday, leading to speculation that he'll be the first pick.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.

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