The merchandising gold rush is on as corporations are set to begin harvesting the next crop of potential superstars prior to the upcoming NFL draft. Big sports names can bring mega profits, especially if they end up having success at the professional level and let’s face it, the NFL long ago ceased being primarily about football. The actual football games are just the exoskeleton that the league wraps around itself to obscure the reality that it is a ruthless business enterprise that rakes in the dough off of merchandise sales and corporate sponsorship deals. So it should come as no surprise that athletic apparel goliath Nike has signed accused sex abuser and crab leg thief “Famous Jameis” Winston to an endorsement contract.

ESPN is reporting that “Nike signs QBs Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota”:

The world’s largest shoe and apparel company confirmed to that it signed Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Sources say the company has also signed this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota, and the two runners-up, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, as well as Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Signing Winston certainly has its risks. On Thursday, Erica Kinsman, who accused the quarterback of sexually assaulting her in 2012, filed a civil suit against him. Winston was never criminally charged and the university ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to say that Winston was in violation of the school’s conduct code. Winston’s attorney denied the accusations again after the suit was filed.

Ironic that Nike jettisoned star Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as a spokesman last year out of concern over his child abuse charges but is down with inking a dude who was able to beat the system on a rape charge.  Winston, who is a lock to become the number one pick in the draft – thanks to the woefully tone deaf Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization – will be a hot commodity until he inevitably gets into trouble with the law. The millions of dollars about to be showered upon the troubled young man will buy a lot of gold chains and other bling, a convoy of vehicles to load his homeys into for the trip to Tampa and lap dances galore at the nude bars on Dale Mabry Highway. Nike is going to cash in now while Winston’s market value is at its peak.

But once again, it’s all about the money. Nike would probably even hire a cannibalistic pederast to hawk it’s sweat-shop manufactured shoes if there was money in it. In Winston’s case that famous swoosh does somewhat resemble an erect penis although marketing it as such would be a bridge too far even for Nike.