Antonio Brown: The Biggest PR Nightmare of 2019

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Antonio Brown, the infamous ex-NFL athlete has created a trail of mayhem over the past eight months both personally and professionally. Read about his journey since March and why it is important for brands to understand the power a person can hold over their reputation.

March 13, 2019

Traded from the Pittsburg Steelers to the Oakland Raiders for a third-and a fifth-round draft pick. Brown was given a three-year $30.125 million extension.

July 25, 2019

Brown shows up for training camp with extreme frostbite on both of his feet from a cryotherapy machine since he was not wearing the correct footwear.

July 30, 2019

The NFL requires all players to wear helmets certified by the National Atheltic Equipment Reconditioners Association.  Brown’s helmet is prohibited for wear in the NFL which causes Brown to threaten to altogether leave football. He eventually leaves practice after the first half and does not return for two weeks.

August 18, 2019

Brown returns to training camp but loses his first grievance for his non-regulated helmet. Brown again leaves training camp early which causes him to be fined for $40,000.

August 22, 2019

Brown skips a mandatory pre-game walkthrough and is charged $13, 950. Three days later Brown loses his second grievance to wear his preferred helmet.

September 4, 2019

Brown posts a private letter on Instagram sent to him from Raiders general manager Mike Mayok. The letter which informed him of his $13,950 fine, advised him not to continue to miss mandatory team activities.

September 5, 2019

Reports leak that Brown will be suspended by the Raiders for conduct detrimental to the team. Although, the next day Brown is back in the building and apologizes during the team meeting.  Things are seeming to look up for Brown and his position on the Raiders.

September 7, 2019

September 9, 2019

Within a day of Brown being released from the Raiders, he is signed to the New England Patriots for a $15 million one-year deal including a $9-million signing bonus.

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September 10, 2019

Britney Taylor, a former trainer for the New England Patriots accuses Brown of rape and names three different incidences where Brown sexually assaulted her in 2017 and 2018.

September 13, 2019

Xenith the helmet manufacturer, dropped Brown from their helmet partnership. It is still unclear if Xenith dropped the endorsement with Brown because of the sexual assault allegations or because he decided to wear a different helmet brand.

September 15, 2019

Brown plays his first game on the Patriots with four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. This was his first and only game on the team.

September 19, 2019

A spokesperson for Nike announces that Brown no longer has a shoe deal with Nike and was released from being a Nike athlete. Despite the spokesperson declining to speak on Nike’s decision, signs suggest Brown’s sexual assault allegations are what prompted the release.

September 20, 2019

The Patriots put out a statement saying they have released Antonio Brown 11 days after he was picked up. Vaguely stating that they feel it is best for them to move in a different direction.

September 22, 2019

Brown states he will not be playing in the NFL anymore in a series of tweets.

September 23, 2019

Brown announces he has re-enrolled for online classes at Central Michigan State, posting his schedule to his Instagram story. Brown played three seasons at CMU and continues to hold reign as the school’s all-time leading receiver.

What if Nike would have waited another week to release Brown? Or what if the Patriots decided to keep him on the team for the rest of his contract? Would this have affected their reputation or would it have brought them more attention? When a brand decides on a specific person to sponsor in order to leverage their marekting efforts, they have to be incredibly careful about who they choose. Endorsements are nothing new to the sports realm and athletes can lose them fairly fast if their behavoir doesn’t line up with the company’s morals. Although, who decides when it’s the right time to release an athlete, how do they know when it will become detremental to the brand?

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