Comeback kid: Giambi signs with Reebok
Jason Giambi had hit rock bottom.
After reportedly admitting to a federal grand jury that he knowingly used steroids, Giambi's 2005 season was off to an inauspicious start. In the midst of an 0-for-15 slump in May, he was asked if he would consider a demotion to the minor leagues. He had lost endorsement deals with Pepsi and Arm & Hammer.
But Giambi eventually pulled through. His 32 home runs and 87 RBI in 139 games this season recently earned him the American League's Comeback Player of Year in a voting by fans.
On Thursday, Reebok announced that it had signed the New York Yankees slugger. Terms of the deal, which includes both shoes and batting gloves, were not disclosed.
"We are excited to have Jason Giambi join our family," said John Lynch, Reebok's vice president of sports marketing. "Being named this year's American League Comeback Player of the Year is a true testament to Jason's determination and work ethic."
In June, it was clear that Giambi's deal with Nike had expired when he wore Mizuno shoes for a series against the Red Sox. A Mizuno spokesperson said that no deal had been struck. But, in the second half of the season, Giambi began wearing Reebok's Vero cleat.
"Reebok has a long-standing history of being loyal to their athletes and I am excited to be partnering with a company who truly values the players they endorse," Giambi said in a statement. "I look forward to getting back on the field next season and representing the brand to the fullest."
Giambi's other endorsement deal is with Louisville Slugger, which will still make his bats.
"This deal takes the Comeback Player of the Year Award to a new level," said David Carter, executive director of USC's Sports Business Institute. "Will he be a good spokesman? Much like any controversial figure, I think that those who were supportive of him in the beginning are even moreso today and those who feel as though he cheated fans probably have not changed their position."
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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