Sports apparel behemoths Reebok and Nike (NKE) have reached a settlement in their fight over New York Jets merchandise featuring iconic quarterback Tim Tebow, formerly of the Denver Broncos and the Florida Gators.
To wit: Reebok has capitulated. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Reebok will recall New York Jets apparel featuring Mr. Tebow's name and number from its distribution system and agree to repurchase shipped Tebow Jets merchandise from retailers. Reebok also agreed not to manufacture, market, donate or advertise such merchandise."
A deal between Reebok and the NFL Players Association, allowing the company to make and sell merchandise emblazoned with player names and numbers, expired on February 28. Another agreement, permitting Reebok to market NFL jerseys, lapsed on March 31, after being in effect for a decade. "Nike took over licensing rights for [NFL] apparel at the beginning of April," the Associated Press reports.
Reebok's plan was to stamp Tebow's name and number on "its existing inventory of blank Jets jerseys and other apparel and sell them under a provision of those agreements that allows it to continue to market those items for a limited time frame," the Journal explains. Reebok can still sell existing Denver Broncos jerseys with Tebow's name and number, for instance, and the company argued that it had the right to sell jerseys and T-shirts of up to five players who switched teams during March, Tebow among them.
But the creation of brand-new merchandise was apparently a foul, as Nike sued Reebok to stop the last-ditch distribution of Tebow-Jets gear. Last week, a federal judge extended a restraining order blocking Reebok from selling 6,000 such jerseys and 25,000 T-shirts that were being supplied to stores. The judge, after a daylong hearing, deemed Nike's suit likely to succeed.
On Easter Sunday, Tebow drew a crowd of approximately 15,000 to an outdoor service in Texas at which he spoke, underscoring his enormous popularity. "In Christianity, it's the Pope and Tebow right now," said Celebration Church pastor Joe Champion. Some worshippers wore Jets jerseys featuring Tebow's name and number, 15. No word on who manufactured them.