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Nike drops Antonio Brown as an endorser

Wide Receiver Antonio Brown #17 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Sports footwear and apparel giant Nike has dropped troubled National Football League wide receiver Antonio Brown as an endorser.

The company confirmed that it ended its sponsorship of Brown, currently playing for the New England Patriots. Brown has been sued in civil court on accusations of rape, and the NFL is also investigating the matter. 

“Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete,” Nike said in a statement.

Nike did not elaborate on the reasoning behind its decisions. But it is common for major corporate endorsements of athletes such as this to contain various morals clauses that allow a company to disassociate itself in the event of an arrest or other legal trouble.

With the decision, Nike is no longer selling a Nike Tech Trainer Antonio Brown shoe it had introduced early this year. Brown has also been dropped an endorser by helmet manufacturer Xenith.

The move continues a frenetic six-month period for Brown in which the star receiver engaged in a bitter public feud with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was traded to the Oakland Raiders, was then cut by that team prior to the start of the 2019 NFL season, and then signed with the Patriots as a free agent just before the rape lawsuit was filed.

Brown through his representatives has denied the legal allegations.

Nike spends more on athlete endorsements than any other company, with its most recent public filings with the US Securities & Exchange Commission showing $10.2bn in such commitments.