You won't find the Air Zoom Vick V sneaker at your favorite retailer this summer. Nike (NYSE:NKE) is holding back on the shoe's release -- its fifth branded footwear product with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick -- now that the speedy gridiron star is under a federal indictment for his alleged role in an illegal dog-fighting operation.

You know the drill. Consumer brands flock to star athletes with lucrative endorsement deals. It's always a gamble. Athletes can get hurt. Their abilities on the field can deteriorate. And in the most unfortunate of cases, they can get into serious legal trouble.

Vick is a popular choice to serve as a spokesman, with previous endorsement deals for companies like Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and AirTran (NYSE:AAI). His passing stats have been mediocre, but his knack for scrambling out of the pocket for big gains makes him one of the most exciting quarterbacks in football.

But Vick has courted controversy in the past and Nike had stood firm in its support of him, through him flipping off his detractors and getting arrested at the airport for allegedly trying to board a flight carrying a water bottle with a suspiciously secret compartment.

Celebrity endorsements are done with the understanding that edgy athletes will help season brands with star-studded personality. The problem with the dog-fighting allegations -- even if Vick is ultimately cleared -- is that it evokes unsavory images of tortured, trained, mutilated dogs gnawing at one another to their bloody deaths.

Any astronomer will tell you that stars do fall from time to time.

Thinking back to Vick's most memorable Nike commercial -- the Michael Vick Experience spot where a coaster-riding experience transforms into a heart-pounding gridiron attraction -- I recall Vick saying, "Welcome to MY ride."

Vick's ride isn't over with Nike. His earlier products are not being pulled from stores. The Air Zoom Vick V may see the light of day when and if the negative publicity subsides. However, in terms of landing future lucrative endorsement deals, it seems as if Vick's ride is in danger of ending before it really had a chance to start.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is sure that he has a pair of Nike sneakers somewhere. He does not own shares in any company mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.  

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.