- (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)
Reebok pulled Tebow jerseys at the order of the court because of their legal battle with Nike, which they lost Wednesday. A U.S. District Court judge gave Nike a temporary restraining order, and the Reebok must now recall all the jerseys it has sold.
Reebok's removal of all Tim Tebow jerseys from retailers comes after being accused by rival sportswear company Nike of illegally distributing the merchandise, according to CNBC. Reebok, once the sole purveyor of all NFL athletic gear, was ousted by Nike March 1 as the official football supplier. Their lawsuit identified Tebow's move to the Jets March 21 as the reason Reebok was in violation of the agreement.
"The opportunity to sell the first Tebow-identified Jets apparel is a unique and short-lived opportunity," said Nike in the filing. "It is unlikely a consumer who purchases an authorized Tebow-identified NFL jersey or t-shirt from Reebok this week will purchase an authorized Tebow jersey or t-shirt from NIKE the following week."
This is certainly true, as news of Tebow's move from the Denver Broncos to the Jets spread like wildfire, and Jets fans were eager to pick up the praying quarterback's paraphernalia as quickly as possible. 1,000 Reebok-made Tebow jerseys were sold out of Modell's stores in New York City within an hour, and in response, current starting Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez jerseys were discounted.
Now Nike is pushing Reebok to take back any remaining jerseys and destroy them, honoring the contract established and announced in October of 2010. Although Reebok has been ordered not to make or ship any more jerseys, but stores are still making money. Up until recently, ads for the Reebok-made jerseys were still up on the NFL Shop website, and the merchandise is still flying off shelves.
"We have jerseys and T-shirts, they're selling like crazy," Mitch Modell, head of Modell's, told The Star-Ledger. "The courts will decide what happens," he said, promising to sell Tebow merchandise until order to do otherwise.
Neither Nike or Reebok had further comments elaborating on the lawsuit, but the ruling represents 10 years of Reebok's history with the NFL coming to a close.
Nike's very first Tim Tebow Jets jerseys go on pre-sale April 15, 2012, and will be shipping April 26.