Ray Rice's Nike Contract Canceled Over Punch Video
Nike deal is latest Ray Rice has lost.
By DARREN ROVELL
September 9, 2014, 6:04 PM
• 3 min read
-- Nike has severed its endorsement deal with Ray Rice.
Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins confirmed to ESPN.com that the former Ravens running back was no longer on the roster of the world's largest sports shoe and apparel maker.
The contract was cancelled a day after a video surfaced showing Rice punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the head and knocking her out in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The Baltimore Ravens terminated his contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.
Nike used Rice as recently as January to unveil to the press its special cold weather gear it made for the Super Bowl in New Jersey. The company is also the official apparel provider of the league.
Rice was also removed the recently released Madden NFL 15 video game, Electronic Arts announced today.
Rice's only comment since the the video surfaced Monday was when he told ESPN today that he is in "good spirits" and "staying strong for my wife."
Severing a contract is rare for Nike. The few athletes who have lost their deals with the shoe company include cyclist Lance Armstrong, Justin Gatlin and Michael Vick.
Armstrong and Gatlin lost their deals related to performance-enhancing drugs. Vick was released when he admitted to bankrolling a dogfighting operation. Nike has since signed Vick again. Nike has also recently suspended the contract of paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius with a decision likely to be made this week as the trial involving his girlfriend's death comes to a close.
Rice lost another endorsement deal from a jump training program called VertiMax. VertiMax CEO Michael Wehrell initially stood by Rice in February, after the first video of Rice dragging his fiancee out of an Atlantic City casino elevator emerged. But, on Monday, Wehrell said his company decided to cut its association with Rice in June.
"After internal discussion about the events that transpired, we determined that a future relationship with Ray did not align with our goals as a company," Wehrell said, in a statement.
Rice jerseys were pulled off shelves at sporting goods retailers Dick's Sporting Goods and Modell's on Monday and were no longer available for sale at the NFL Shop, the league's official online website. On Tuesday, the Ravens announced they would allow fans to exchange Ray Rice jerseys at some point, though the details of the program have not yet been specified.