Jon Jones' recent and numerous faux paus have tarnished his image as a fighter. Are Nike execs now facepalming in the wake of Jones' DWI and inept handling of his public relations?
No—not by a long shot.
While Jon Jones and Nike related parodies surfaced immediately after the UFC 151 debacle that resulted in the event's cancellation, it matters not to the world's most prestigious sports apparel company.
Nike isn't in the PR business.
They shouldn't care about Jones' DWI. They shouldn't care that Jon Jones wouldn't risk his net worth to fight Chael Sonnen. They shouldn't care that Jon Jones' official response to the UFC 151 crisis came off as extremely arrogant. And they shouldn't care that Jones recently issued a selfish statement to the Associated Press.
This is where critics interject with a tired line like "but it makes Nike look bad for one of their sponsored athletes to behave in such a manner," albeit with about a dozen more exclamation points and with fewer words spelled correctly.
Apparently, Nike doesn't think it's all that bad or else they would've canned Jones as well as the dozens of other athletes who have done less-than-ideal things during the duration of their sponsorships.
Despite the occasional removal of a sponsorship, Nike really doesn't care what happens—they're getting people's money regardless.
Nike makes (or simply brands if you're a cynic) the uniforms for the NFL, an organization not known for the honorable reputation of its athletes.
Specifically, Nike sponsored convicted dog abuser Michael Vick in 2011. True, they did cancel Vick's sponsorship in the immediate wake of the allegations against him, but ultimately Nike only spoke with their wallet.
Nike's continued sponsorships of Ben Roethlisberger, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods amidst the sordid allegations against them all is further evidence that Jones isn't the only athlete to come under fire while under the Nike umbrella.
However, Nike isn't to be condemned for honoring these sponsorships. Not all athletes are paragons of virtue, after all.
Nike can spend sponsorship money however it wants—you'll find no moralizing here.
But if you're to tell me that Nike will regret sponsoring Jon Jones of all people when they've had plenty of other questionable characters representing their brand, you're dead wrong.
Nike is in the business of dollar signs. They need athletes who either excel at their chosen sport or excel at selling merchandise (usually they're one in the same but there are exceptions).
In the former respect, Nike has no choice but to sponsor Jones.
He's the next legendary mixed martial arts fighter and Nike, by sponsoring Jones, has shown that they want to be along for the ride, DWI and PR naivete notwithstanding.
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