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The Vick-Nike relationship continues to raise eyebrows

Even during his bye week, Eagles quarterback Mike Vick has found a way to make headlines.

Though he had no role in the process, the disclosure by one of his marketing representatives on Wednesday that Vick has a new contract with Nike has created plenty of buzz, for plenty of reasons.

The initial wave of news -- that Nike has welcomed Vick back into the family -- triggered unexpected criticism of Nike, given that Vick’s return to the NFL had been generally uneventful.

And that criticism prompted a swift response from Nike.

Nike does not have a contractual relationship with Michael Vick,” Nike spokesman Kejuan Wilkins told CNBC’s Darren Rovell in a statement. “We have agreed to supply product to Michael Vick as we do a number of athletes who are not under contract with Nike.”

Most league observers have accepted Nike’s statement at face value. But since we never accept anything at face value, let’s dig a little deeper on this one.

Actually, Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal already has dug a little deeper, and she has harvested this quote from an unnamed player agent. “They do contracts for their product-only Nike guys,” said the agent. “If it’s a merchandise-only deal, they absolutely do contracts.”

Multiple sources have confirmed for us this reality. The industry uniformly uses contracts even when giving the players merchandise only.

So if Vick has no contract with Nike, the situation potentially would be unprecedented in pro sports.

Bottom line? Someone isn’t telling the truth, and it’s either Vick’s people or it’s Nike. Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see if the situation has a lingering impact on whatever relationship does or doesn’t exist between the two parties.