Man, Oh Man…
How the mighty have fallen. Antonio Brown’s year has been somewhat interesting with drama following him everywhere he goes and that’s not even the worst part of it since he’s been the one majority of it. AB requested a trade out of Pittsburgh after falling out with his teammate Ben Roethlisberger over the past couple years and he was granted his wish on March 9, 2019 when the Steelers agreed to trade Brown to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a third and fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with the deal becoming official on March 13. 2019.
The Steelers had not only suffered a loss with their 7x Pro-Bowler star receiver swiftly exiting the building but they subsequently also lost out on $21.12 million after the Oakland trade. The fact that they were willing to lose so much money in fact one-ninth of their salary cap speaks volumes. Oakland signed him to a three-year deal worth $50.125 million with a maximum value of $54.125 million of which he would receive $30.125 million guaranteed. The Steelers were drama free but the Raiders had no idea what they got themselves into.
Fast forward a couple months to August 3, AB was back in the news but for all the wrong reasons, he had shared a photo to Instagram of his severely blistered, frostbitten feet after failing to wear appropriate protection during a cryotherapy session. The injury forced him to miss 10 out of 11 training camp practices with the Raiders. Hardly a good start with your new franchise.
On August 9, Brown had filed a grievance against the NFL for not allowing him to wear his old helmet after it was banned for not meeting the NFL’s regulations. After having an arbitrator deny his request Brown said: “While I disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, I’m working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field. I’m excited about this season appreciate all the concerns about my feet!”. Brown had found a replacement helmet which also had not met the NFL’s standards.
After missing out on a few more practices Raiders GM Mike Mayock issued a statement: “You all know that AB is not here today. So here’s the bottom line. He’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that. We appreciate that, OK? But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So, from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. OK? So we’re hoping he’s back soon. We’ve got 89 guys busting their tails. We are really excited about where this franchise is going. And we hope AB’s going to be a big part of it starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story, no questions.”
With rumours circulating of AB threatening to retire if the NFL refused to let him wear his old helmet, a second grievance was filed on August 19 regarding his helmet which he had also lost. His agent Drew Rosenhaus came out saying: “That door is closed. On the bright side, as a result of all of the publicity that has accrued from all of our efforts to get him to wear that helmet, he has multiple offers on the table from various helmet companies to custom make a helmet for him and to pay him quite a bit of money. So we have found, without getting into specifics, some very suitable alternatives. It’s sort of a happy ending even though he won’t be able to wear the old helmet anymore.” Brown had finally found a new helmet that met the NFL’s standards and he signed an endorsement deal with Xenith helmets.
At this point we thought the drama was over and AB would focus on preparing for the upcoming NFL season however we thought wrong. On September 4, he was fined a combined $54,000 by Mike Mayock due to unexcused absences and missing two team practice sessions. Brown fired back on his Instagram, stating that “When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now devil is a lie. Everyone got to pay this year SO WE CLEAR.” The next day, Brown confronted GM Mike Mayock and hurled racial slurs and threatened to hit him in the face. When Brown threatened to hit Mayock, he had to be held back by several teammates, including the linebacker who flatted him not too long ago Vontaze Burfict. Afterwards, he punted a football into a fence and said to Mayock “fine me for that”. Following the incident at practice, it was announced that the Raiders planned on suspending Brown for an unspecified amount of time. Drew Rosenhaus, his knight in shining armor came once more to his aid and issued a statement saying that “From my perspective, I’m trying to get it to work out. I’d like him to honor his contract with the Raiders, play this year, have a great season. I still think that’s doable.” On Friday 6, Brown made an apology to his teammates for his behavior and later read a 20 second statement saying “I’m excited to be out here today. I apologized to my teammates and the organization. Enough talk, man. I’m excited to be out here with my teammates. I’m grateful for all the fans. I’m excited to be a part of the Raiders and see you guys soon.” HC Jon Gruden also stated that the plan is for Antonio Brown to play their week 1 fixture against the Denver Broncos.
Last but not least on September 7, Brown demanded his release from the Raiders after they voided the guaranteed money in his contract. The guaranteed money was voided when Brown was fined $215,073 for his previous altercation with Mayock. In his Instagram post found below, Brown requested to be released from the Raiders.
The Raiders are obviously at their wits end with the drama they’ve had to endure with AB and his antics and have chosen to release Antonio Brown per his request via his Instagram vent this was recently posted to the NFL’s Instagram. He will now become an unrestricted free agent after his release and he will be free to sign with any team.
This could be the end of AB as a professional athlete all together. NFL teams and head coaches have had a good look at his antics over the course of 2019 and I’d be surprised if anyone made a push for him, perhaps Head Coach Bill Belichick from the New England Patriots especially considering what they did with HOFer Randy Moss but that too is a a stretch. It’s clear that something is clearly unsettling AB be it the league, his former GM, a former teammate or perhaps something more personal. Whatever it is, his attitude and ego has been detrimental to the Raiders team and himself as a player and a brand.
Hopefully he can turn the corner and come back in spectacular fashion one day but as for the present I don’t see that happening any time soon.