ATLANTA -- AirTran Airways has ended its relationship with
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who has been a pitchman
for the airline since 2004, but whose image has been tarnished in
several off-field incidents.
"Michael's contract expired May 8, and we advised him then that
we would not renew it," AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said
Hutcheson said Vick had appeared on five billboards and did
radio commercials under a one-year contract, which had been renewed
twice before. He said AirTran has Falcons running back Warrick Dunn
under contract, and other sports celebrities in other cities.
Most recently, Vick's name has been dragged into a Virginia
investigation of dog fighting after authorities confiscated dozens
of dogs at property owned by Vick and said they found evidence
related to fighting.
Among Vick's other publicity problems, he was sued by a woman
who claimed he gave her herpes, he made an obscene gesture to
spectators while leaving the field after a game, and security
screeners at the Miami airport stopped him from boarding an AirTran
flight in January with a water bottle that turned out to have a
hidden compartment. Vick said he used it to store jewelry, and
police found no evidence of smuggled drugs.
Especially stinging to AirTran, though, was that Vick's
publicist blamed the airline when the quarterback known for his
quickness failed to arrive in Washington to speak before Congress.
AirTran said Vick had ample opportunities to get to his destination
on AirTran but chose not to.