Luckily for former Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James, Nike Inc. is now the NFL’s official apparel provider.
It turns out that the San Francisco 49ers draftee is so devoted to the Washington County brand (NYSE: NKE) that he ruled out several college choices because they weren't Nike schools, the Portland Business Journal reported.
From an interview Monday with San Francisco sports radio station KNBR, via the 49ers website:
“I would not go to two or three colleges, just because they were Adidas,” James said. “Weirdest thing ever. I wouldn’t go to Arkansas and I wouldn’t go to Mississippi State because they were Adidas schools. No three stripes for me. All Nike.”
The University of Oregon, being Nike founder Phil Knight’s beloved alma mater, has had the greatest degree of influence from Nike, which has used the school’s football team as its most showcased program.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the influence would permeate the minds of Ducks’ players. But it also shows the apparent effectiveness of Nike as a recruitment tool for starstruck 18-year-old high school football players.
There’s also a downside to this phenomenon. You could call it “brand-standing,” a my-brand-is-better-than-your-brand partisanship that can quickly devolve from friendly competition to downright absurdity very quickly.
It’s hard for me to say where James’ comments fall on the “brand-standing” spectrum.
The answer might have been clearer if Nike hadn’t landed the NFL gig. If James had to wear Reebok’s logo, he might just have retired.
The Portland Business Journal is a news partner with KATU