Antonio Brown still has a job with the New England Patriots.
But he no longer has a shoe deal with Nike.
A spokesperson for Nike said Wednesday night, “Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete.”
Asked multiple times to elaborate on the reason for the decision and clarify its timing, the spokesperson declined. Several signs suggest that recent allegations against the wide receiver served as a catalyst for why the world’s largest sneaker seller would want to disassociate itself from Brown.
Efforts to reach Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, for comment were unsuccessful.
Three days after the Patriots acquired Brown on Sept. 7, Brown’s former physical service trainer Britney Taylor filed a civil complaint in US District Court in Miami that accuses him of sexual assault stemming from two alleged incidents from June 2017, and rape from a May 20, 2018, incident in Brown’s home in Miami.
Only a couple of weeks after the rape allegedly occurred, a seven-minute-plus video titled “Antonio Brown Goes Sneaker Shopping with Complex” was published on YouTube. Viewed more than 1.7 million times since then, the video features Brown elaborating on his lifelong passion for sneakers, particularly Nike sneakers.
Taylor’s lawsuit describes Brown’s personal life leading up to the alleged May 2018 incident as being in a state of “apparent chaos” and that Brown’s assorted endorsement deals were partly to blame.
From the lawsuit: “He was also having trouble balancing the responsibilities he had arising out of his many endorsement deals, including with Campbell’s Soup, Nike, Pepsi, Pizza Hut, AT&T/DirecTV, and Rite Aid, among others. He showed up late to events he was required to attend for those sponsors or otherwise failed to hold up his contractual obligations.”
On Feb. 5 this year, a month before the Pittsburgh Steelers traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders, Nike introduced the “Nike Tech Trainer Antonio Brown” shoe, listed for $100. The shoe features a floral-patterned upper with tiny “84s” — Brown’s uniform number with the Steelers.
Gold detailing on the tongue features one of Brown’s popular phrases, “Business is Boomin.”
The shoe no longer appears on the Nike website, although as of early Thursday morning, Nike was still offering five No. 84/Brown Raiders or Steelers jerseys, ranging from $59.97 to $90, and one Brown Big Kid’s T-shirt for $28.
Nike, with a 2019 market value of $224.3 billion and $38.7 billion in sales, according to Forbes, is the global leader in sneaker sales, and a deal with the Swoosh has been coveted by athletes in all sports since Michael Jordan became a Nike client in the 1980s.
The Patriots signed Brown the same day he was released by the Raiders. His Oakland stint was notable for a holdout he staged during training camp to protest new NFL helmet requirements.
Three days before his Oakland release, Brown signed a new deal with the Xenith helmet company and agreed to wear the Xenith Shadow helmet this season.
Shortly after Taylor filed her lawsuit, Xenith ended its deal with Brown. A statement from the company stated, in part: “Xenith has decided to end our relationship with Antonio Brown.” In an e-mail, a Xenith spokesperson said Wednesday the company would have no further comment.
Brown’s endorsement deal with Pepsico ended earlier this year, according to an industry source.
According to a recent Fox Business news article, Facebook ended its association with Brown in 2017, and the Pizza Hut and Campbell’s Soup deals expired last year.
The NFL is currently investigating the Brown allegations.