Nike Drops Brown Despite Standing By Some Other Accused Athletes
Nike's decision to drop Patriots WR Antonio Brown as an endorser "comes as a surprise, as the company has in the past continued to sponsor athletes involved in litigation and negative publicity while other brands dropped their support," according to Kevin Draper of the N.Y. TIMES. Sales of football products "make up a relatively small portion of Nike's bottom line, and the company has been quicker to distance itself from pro football players accused of wrongdoing." In '14, Nike ended its sponsorship of former NFLer Ray Rice after video showed him "striking his fiancee in an elevator, as well as its sponsorship of Adrian Peterson after he was charged with child abuse." However, Nike "chose to continue its lifetime contract" with Cristiano Ronaldo after he was "accused of rape in a lawsuit last year." Ronaldo's Nike contract is reportedly worth $1B. Nike also has "stood by athletes accused of less-serious wrongdoings that still became public relations nightmares" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). In Boston, Michael Silverman notes Nike early this year unveiled the Nike Tech Trainer Antonio Brown shoe, listed for $100. The shoe "no longer appears on the Nike website" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/20)
GOING TOO FAR TO RECOVER: FS1's Skip Bayless notes Nike "has always liked superstars with some edge," but the allegations against Brown is "going over the edge." Brown has become "so bad for business that even Nike said no." Xenith earlier this month dropped Brown as an endorser for its helmets, and FS1's Shannon Sharpe said brands "do not want their names associated with that player" ("Undisputed," FS1, 9/20). In Boston, Tom Keegan writes it seems as if Nike decided the allegations against Brown were "staining the Nike brand" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/20). Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker said, "With Nike taking this stance, he's instantly toxic in this environment." Braiker added he "wouldn't be surprised" if Brown's other endorsements "were to go away" ("GMA," ABC, 9/20).
NO PATS JERSEYS AVAILABLE, YET: In Boston, Nicole Yang notes Brown's jersey is "not readily available" in the Patriots ProShop, although the reason for his jersey not being displayed "doesn't appear to be anything unique to his situation." In-store quantities "have to sell, so only the players in highest demand" such as Tom Brady or WR Julian Edelman are "featured on-site." If the "market proves to be strong enough, Brown's jersey presumably will soon be" displayed in the ProShop. Both the ProShop Collection and Olympia Sports at Patriot Place stores said that they "expect to receive shipments of Brown merchandise in the coming week" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/20).