49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was fined last week for showing up at a press conference with his Beats headphones. Kaepernick is a Beats spokesperson–a paid endorser–and his deal is in conflict with the NFL’s own branded deal. Bose is the official headphone of the NFL. This week, in order to avoid a $10,000 weekly hit from the league, Kaepernick appeared with what looked like his Beats headphones again–but we can’t say for sure because he covered the logo up with some tape. (NFL training rooms have no shortage of ankle tape.) Will that fly for the NFL? Doubtful. The quarterback may just have to go without his music during his day job.
But Kaerpernick takes his cover-up idea from a pretty illustrious source–Michael Jordan. Back in 1992, when the US Olympic Basketball team–AKA The Dream Team–was ruling the sports world, Jordan had a similar conflict of interest. Jordan had taken sports star sponsorship to a whole new level with his Air Jordan brand and his very rich Nike partnership, and he was very cautious not to blemish the brand. Problem is, USA Basketball had a deal with Reebok. (You may not remember them, but once upon a time Reebok and Nike were real rivals.) Jordan–and some of his Nike compatriots–had a real dilemma concerning the Reebok warm-ups the team had to wear during the Olympic ceremonies. It had a big Reebok logo on the shoulder, which Jordan apparently felt might make his arm fall off. So he draped an American flag over his shoulder, just like his Nike-bound teammates did. Pretty slick. How could anybody argue with that? Look for some stars and stripes on Kaepernick’s next tape job.