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Antonio Brown picks new helmet, turns dispute into endorsement deal with Xenith

Thomas Barrabi

Embattled Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown is cashing in on his prolonged helmet dispute with the NFL through a new endorsement deal with helmet manufacturer Xenith.

Brown, who missed a large part of Raiders training camp after the NFL banned him from wearing his preferred helmet, will wear the Xenith Shadow during the 2019 season. Designed with safety, comfort and agility in mind, according to Xenith, the Shadow ranked among the top-10 best-performing helmets after joint NFL and NFL Players Association laboratory testing.

“NFL athletes have a choice in what helmet they wear. I choose Xenith,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s not easy to make a change like this so far into your career, but the Xenith Shadow was the only helmet that could fit my needs on the field.”

The endorsement deal’s financial terms were not disclosed. Brown is set to assist Xenith’s efforts in “community building, furthering the athlete’s pursuit and making the game of football accessible for athletes at all levels and from all beginnings,” the company said in a press release.

Other Xenith endorsers include Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb and Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore.

“The Xenith Shadow is a manifestation of our ongoing commitment to being at the forefront of head-health and performance science, and integrating those insights into meaningful innovation for athletes on the field,” said Grant C. Goulet, Xenith’s vice president of product innovation.

Brown briefly refused to practice and play this summer after the NFL informed him that he would be unable to wear the Schutt Air Advantage, a discontinued model he had worn through his entire career. The helmet is no longer certified to meet the league’s safety standards.

Brown filed two unsuccessful grievances in a bid to reverse the decision, arguing that newer model helmets interfered with his vision while attempting to catch passes. At one point, Brown asked the public to supply an Air Advantage helmet manufactured within the last 10 years in a bid to skirt the NFL’s ruling, but league officials declined to certify the helmet for in-game use.

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The Raiders fined Brown roughly $54,000 for missing multiple practices this summer amid the helmet dispute. Brown criticized team officials on social media Wednesday, writing that his “own team want to hate.”

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