NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Relative upstart Under Armour (UA) continues to sign lucrative athlete endorsement deals to keep pace with rivals Nike (NKE), Adidas and Puma. Under Armour sought to make a big splash in the 2014 NFL Draft by signing Johnny Manziel, the most high-profile college player in this year's draft, but lost out to Nike.
Nike announced it has signed Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, to a multiyear deal. Nike will now provide shoes and Manziel's jersey, as the official NFL jersey provider. The company will also be able to use Manziel and possibly his "Johnny Football" moniker in advertisements.
Under Armour was at one point believed to be the front runner for Manziel. The company even had billboards near its Baltimore headquarters welcoming Manziel to the family. A banner read "Welcome to our house, Johnny."
Manziel is the possible number-one overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Another possible first pick, Jadeveon Clowney, is close to inking a deal with Puma. Two of the top prospects are now out of Under Armour's reach.Under Armour still boasts Tom Brady and Cam Newton, two prominent NFL quarterbacks, under endorsement deals. However, other players signed to Under Armour are starting to lose their luster. Ray Lewis is retired, Arian Foster is declining due to injuries and Devin Hester recently parted ways with the Chicago Bears. Expect Under Armour to target other first-rounders once the draft is over to gain some more future stars in its marketing efforts.
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