Adidas said it would pay the top three fastest players who ran the 40-yard dash in its shoes and signed a contract to endorse the brand before they ran $100,000.
When Nelson went to the player suite where he had a choice to run in the latest models form Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, he said he chose Adidas not only because the shoes were comfortable but because he was aware of the $100,000 prize.
"I wasn't completely focused on it at the time," Nelson told ESPN.com. "I was obviously focused on getting a good time first."
An Adidas news release said that the offer was "open to the athletes who sign with adidas prior to running their official 40 yard dashes later this month," but Nelson said he wasn't ever given a chance to sign with the brand.
"I signed some waiver at some point, but I was never given a chance to sign an endorsement deal," Nelson said.
When the ESPN.com article was posted that quoted Adidas spokesman Michael Ehrlich as saying Nelson wasn't eligible because he didn't sign with the brand, Nelson said he started getting phone calls and text messages.
"Players and friends were calling me thinking I would be dumb enough to turn down $100,000," Nelson said.
At 5-foot-10, 156 pounds, Nelson -- who ran a 4.28 40-yard dash -- is thought of as, at best, a late-round draft pick. The same can't be said for the three players who took home the $100,000.
Former Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (4.31) and former West Virginia receiver Kevin White (4.35) are projected first-round draft picks, while former University of Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett (4.33) might not slip past the second round.
Last year, former Oregon State receiverBrandin Cookswon the $100,000 prize from Adidas for running the fastest 40 in its shoes. But Cooks took the money and promptly signed with Nike. So Adidas this year changed the policy to include that a player would also haveto sign an endorsement deal.
Adidas officials were not immediately available for comment.
Adidas Rewards 40-Yard Dash's Top Finishers
Darren Rovell explains how signing an endorsement deal and delivering one of the top finishes in the 40-yard dash made three prospects $100,000 richer at the NFL combine.