Michael Vick Was Not Wearing Rib Protection Made By A Company He Endorses

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There’s been a lot of discussion over whether Michael Vick was at fault for getting injured yet again the other night. That’s silly talk, since Vick was hit in the pocket and not while foolishly scrambling for an extra yard. Almost any other Philly athlete would be applauded for being as stubbornly tough as Vick (hello, Chase Utley). But, for reasons that probably touch a bit on race, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame Vick for playing the game as hard as he can. 

There is one thing that Vick may be at fault for, though.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell tweeted last night that Vick was not wearing a rib protection shirt that he endorses… according to the company that makes said rib protection shirt.

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In January, 2011, Vick signed an endorsement deal with Philly area-based Unequal, makers of “military grade, battle tested composite, breathable, lightweight and comfortable” padded under armor (ambiguous) that protects against “harsh blows on any battlefield.” Get all that? Unequal made Vick a special shock-absorbing chest protector in the fall of 2010 to help him return from a rib cartilage injury. After his first game back, against the Colts, Vick credited Unequal for making him feel “invincible." That comment sparked talks between the two sides and it eventually led to the endorsement deal. [This Wall Street Journal article detailed the courtship between Vick and Unequal.]

In a statement, Vick had said the following: "Unequal's protective power gives me a whole new level of confidence in my game. It makes me feel invincible."

Maybe he doesn't like the way that feels: Vick has now twice injured his ribs since signing his deal with Unequal: He broke them last season, causing him to miss three games, and now has a “contusion” that will likely keep him out until at least Week 1. 

Those injuries may be the result of Vick not fulfilling the obligations of his endorsement deal with Unequal.

I spoke with Unequal President Rob Vito this morning. He confirmed Rovell's report that Vick wasn’t wearing Unequal on Monday night: “Mike Vick was not wearing the Unequal Exo Armor chest protector shirt. We are waiting for the Eagles equipment manager to place the order so that Vick can be custom-fitted for the 2012 season.”  

Here’s where it gets fun, though: Vito fired a shot at Nike. He believes that Vick was wearing the NFL’s standard issue Nike Combat undershirt on Monday night and when he suffered his rib injury against the Cardinals last season. 

In an Unequal press release from last December, Vick confirmed Vito’s claim:

Since breaking his ribs last season in a game against the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles QB has been wearing an UNEQUAL Body Armor built into a thermally insulated winter weight shirt, as Vick instructed. Facing unexpected hot temperatures in last month's game against theArizona Cardinals, Vick opted to forgo the UNEQUAL winter weight body armor and instead wore a competitors' protective gear that resulted in Vick breaking two ribs and missing the last three games.

"I wore a different one, not made by UNEQUAL," he admitted. "I switched it up because the UNEQUAL gear was a winter weight and it was hot that day. Bottom line: I didn't use UNEQUAL and got hurt. I now regret it." 


Vito says Vick is required to wear Unequal gear on the field per the terms of their agreement. However, the company’s president is respectful of the fact that players often feel pressured to wear equipment from big-name brands and league sponsors, such as Nike.

Unequal, which was founded in 2008, supplies protective gear to many in the NFL, including Tony Romo and the St. Louis Rams. Vito says he once had ESPN's Ed Werder hit him in the chest with a shovel to demonstrate durability of Unequal Exo Armor (I would love to find that video).

On 97.5 The Fanatic yesteday, Phils Simms told Jon Marks and Brian Baldinger he thought it was “crazy” that Vick wasn’t wearing rib protection, especially in a preseason game. 

Andy Reid, however, believes that Vick was wearing some sort of protection. Here’s what he said after the game: [Philly.com]

"We have a variety of flak jackets, the cumbersome ones and the ones that are a little more flexible," Reid said.

Vick's injury showed that the protective gear was either insufficient or inadequate. Even Reid admitted as much after the game.

"Whatever he had on didn't work," Reid said. "But listen, things happen."


Apparently, the whatever he had on was Nike, not Unequal. Says Unequal.


27 Responses

  1. Sure, he was in the pocket. But did you miss the part where he didn’t throw the ball away, spun around, then reset to throw the ball, and got blasted. All this while playing in a meaningless preseason game. Black or white, I call that stupid. Don’t make this a race issue.

  2. Or, he was wearing the Unequal flak jacket, and they don’t want to admit it didn’t stop him from getting bruised.
    Both are equally likely.

  3. In his Eagles’ career Vick had a great 5-7 game stretch – that’s about it. He has been ordinary to sub-par outside that window.
    He has done nothing ‘great’ since the final Giants game in 2010.
    Now he has a built-in excuse for failure this year. On ESPN Monday they were still talking about 2011’s excuse – no camp.
    2012 – only 12 plays in pre-season – that’s why the Birds started 1-4…

  4. Hope Vick’s season gets injured about 5 minutes into the Brown’s game and Foles can get an entire season under his belt so the Eagles can cut Vick this offseason. He needs to go for a hundred reasons.

  5. Kyle, he said it makes him feel “invincible” not invisible. You may need to change the start of that sentence after the Vick statement that reads, “Well, maybe he prefers to be seen.”

  6. Sick of the race issue being brought up, Dude is injury prone always has been, he’s tiny and he runs around in the pocket, he’s going to get hurt. Maybe the Eagles shouldn’t of signed him to that contract so quickly and looked at his over all body of work. I like Vick but I know every game he plays could be one where he’s gonna be taken out on a stretcher. Stop crying about race and just view the guys over all body of work.

  7. Again with race? Are you jumping to that just to get a reaction? Vick isn’t “stubborn tough” – he is a guy that holds the ball far too long and doesn’t actually use the pocket. If you keep moving backwards and spinning off tackles, you aren’t in the pocket.
    If Chase Utley kept getting hurt because he was throwing a flying knee at grounders to slow them down, then i’d get your point. It’s not race, it’s not knowing how to properly play a position and putting yourself in a spot to get injured…all the time.

  8. No way! Next you’ll tell me that Jaws didn’t really do his mortgage through alliedmortgagedirect.com, your local mortgage banker.

  9. Vick trying to extend a play in a postseason game …then heaving a ball downfield- exposing his ribs … is 100% his fault. Fall on the turf, why take the extra hit. No chance he stays on the field for 13 games this year

  10. Stop lying you miserable losers,you Philly fans know damn well you jump on the first opportunity to be overly critical of black athletes.
    Lebron James,Michael Vick,DeSean Jackson,Donovan McNabb,Barry Bonds,Terrell Owens,Jimmy Rollins,and this is coming from a white New Yorker.

  11. I couldn’t agree more about him being more stupid than tough. Difference with a guy like Utley is he’s tough and smart, he just happens to have a body that is breaking down degeneratively, through no fault of his own. Eric Lindros was a tough athlete, as tough as they come, but he was dumb for continuing to cross the blueline with his head down ..we called him on it ..and he is white.

  12. Vick is an idiot. Too stupid to save his body in a preseason game or to slide feet first. Can’t read a defense either. All you need to do is listen to him speak for 10 seconds and it readily apparent.

  13. i would like to know what Edward Murphy thinks about this Exo safety equipment. Who’s at fault here Edward Murphy?

  14. if the fucker hasn’t learned yet to put on his protection there is nothing anybody can say to protect him… no black people no white people no green people.
    dude has to wear the protection. he is taking all those hits doing all that crazy shit then you see he doesnt have any protection on. come on dude you are making rookie errors now.
    it amazes me why the media doesnt press him on that issue, they press him on his personal life but they let this slide

  15. “But, for reasons that probably touch a bit on race, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame Vick for playing the game as hard as he can. ”
    You know me as a loyal reader, a friend, and classmate, but fuck you you. Vick gets shit for trying to be tough because he is a QB. QBs are not supposed to be tough. Hell the rules are tailored for them. It’s also THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION ON THE FIELD OF 22. You don’t want your QB putting himself in a position to take unnecessary hits that could take him out of the game. Its not Race, its just the facts. Don’t be an interweb, scriptual troll.

  16. @RangersYankeesNYGiantsFan
    Really? You missed all the white Athletes we hate/hated/ripped – Bryce Harper, Sidney Crosby, Marty Brodeur, Scott Rolen, Scott Stevens, Troy Aikman, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Mitch Williams….the list goes on and on.
    But I wouldn’t expect much out of a Rangers/Yankees/Giants fan.

  17. …Notice that RangersYankeesNYGiantsFan is not a fan of any basketball team. Makes one go “Hmmmmmm”

  18. ditto gray @ NY ass face
    Mike Schmidt got booed in Philly – they booed Darren Daulton’s toddler during a father/son game
    the famous Santa incident was a white guy
    come down to Philly area (any where 50 miles from Philly) on any EFFING Sunday during football season – go to the malls etc you will see hundreds of Vick jerseys – and still many No. 5s – 92s, 99s, 10s
    as far a as SuperBowl with Vick -he sure helped us get there in 2004 –

  19. Stupidity knows no color. If you’re not smart enough to wear apparel than can protect your body from the rigors associated with playing professional football, then it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, blue, yellow or green, the only common denominator is bottomless idiocy.

  20. Vick will be injured by week 3, don’t worry, you’ll get to see your rookie disappoint you and get to give him the overly-harsh criticism he deserves.
    As far as the race issue… Kyle brought it up after all… Statistically white QBs win most(all but one) superbowls…

  21. MM,
    About to commence a meeting, will attempt to publish our analysis later this evening, depending on the longevity of the meeting. Will say off the bat that it is appalling if true, that the Eagles did not allow him to wear Unequal. Need to touch base with a few sources. Have a good evening and let’s hope for a speedy recovery by Mr. Vick

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