Antonio Brown dropped by helmet company after sexual assault allegations emerge

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor

Outside of the millions he got to join the New England Patriots, Antonio Brown’s biggest win of the season was turning a bizarre and protracted helmet grievance fight into a financial windfall.

That deal just fell through.

Helmet manufacturer Xenith has decided to drop Brown following the emergence of a sexual assault lawsuit against the Pro Bowl wide receiver, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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It was reported earlier Friday that Brown would avoid the commissioner’s exempt list and be cleared to play in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins. As it turns out, he’ll have to proceed with a new helmet.

The allegations facing Antonio Brown

The move comes three days after Britney Taylor filed a lawsuit against Brown accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three different occasions between 2017 and 2018, culminating in him allegedly forcibly raping her in his Miami home.

The lawsuit includes screengrabs of text messages appearing to show Brown profanely bragging about one incident in which he allegedly masturbated onto her back while she was watching a church service on her iPad. Brown has denied all allegations, and is reportedly considering a counter-suit for civil extortion.

Antonio Brown no longer has his helmet deal. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Antonio Brown no longer has his helmet deal. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The lawsuit caught the Patriots completely off guard the same day they signed him to a one-year, $15 million deal with a $9 million signing bonus. The NFL is now investigating Taylor’s claims and reportedly plans to meet with her.

Any punishment Brown receives from the league is likely down the road, but he is already seeing an immediate consequence with the loss of his hard-fought helmet deal.

Brown had turned a helmet feud into a profit

Back before news of the sexual assault allegations emerged, Brown’s efforts to continue wearing his Schutt AiR Advantage helmet was the story of the preseason.

Brown filed multiple grievances against the NFL for permission to continue wearing his old helmet, which had been deemed unsafe and banned from play a year earlier.

The 31-year-old reportedly insisted on still using the helmet (going so far as to paint it), skipped practices and even threatened to retire over the matter, much to the consternation of the Raiders, who had given up a third-and fifth-round pick for the disgruntled receiver.

The saga ended, at least in Oakland, when Brown eventually requested his release from the Raiders after clashes with general manager Mike Mayock over fining him him for skipping practices, and the team obliged.

Brown unsurprisingly lost both grievances against the NFL, but was still able to pull out a win by landing the highest-profile helmet deal in football history. And now that deal is gone, and it might not be the biggest punishment Brown sees before the season is over.

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