IT’S not often an NFL star gets released twice in 13 days, but that’s exactly the position Antonio Brown finds himself in. The 31-year old already boasts a Hall of Fame calibre resume, but ongoing character questions and a recent sexual assault allegations have turned his world upside down in the past few months. It’s hard to keep a track of all the off-field events the Brown has been involved in, but with his future shrouded in doubt let’s rehash some of the notable 2019 storylines that fueled Brown’s downward spiral.
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TO get to the end of the story we first need to start at the beginning (duh). Less than six months ago Brown found himself shipped out of Pittsburgh after a tumultuous nine seasons with the Steelers. At the time, sending him to Oakland for a third-round and fifth-round pick seemed like a steal for the Raiders, but it became clear in the ensuing months that Pittsburgh was just happy to wash their hands of him.
WHILE playing in black and gold, Brown cemented himself as one of the best receivers in the history of the game. Since entering the league in 2010, he has hauled in the most receiving yards in the league (11,263) and the second most receiving touchdowns (75) earning seven Pro Bowl nods, while accumulating a plethora of receiving records. However, amidst his success on the field a crack started to divide Brown from the rest of his team, with the issues coming to a head late in the 2018 season. A divorce seemed inevitable after a heated argument with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leading to AB missing the Week 17 match against Cincinnati in what would have been his final game for the franchise.
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“I’m here to elevate everything around me. I’m here to just be a surge of energy, of positivity, and good force. A great teammate and to bring out the best of everyone around me cause we all know it’s not just about me.”
THAT was Antonio Brown’s first quote as a Raider in his introductory press conference, with QB Derek Carr, head coach Jon Gruden and Oakland fans across the globe salivating at the possibilities he brought to the team. We never got to see Brown deployed in Gruden’s offense with issues arising virtually as soon as training camp commenced. At first, it was Brown’s frostbitten feet making headlines after the star WR wore the wrong shoes during a cryotherapy session. Naturally, that led to him missing multiple practices, a theme that remained constant during his 181 days as a Raider.
AT the opposite end of his talented 5ft 10in frame, Brown’s helmet became another talking point during the preseason with the league no longer certifying his ‘Schutt Air Advantage’ dome. As a result, Brown filed grievance against the NFL at one point threatening to retire if he wasn’t able to continue wearing his preferred method of protection. All of this drama left Oakland GM Mike Mayock in an uneasy position and after weeks of back and forth Mayock declared “…it’s time for him (Brown) to be all in or all out.”
DEPENDING on the day Brown’s mentality seemed to shift, with everything coming to a head on the 4th of September when Brown and Mayock had a heated exchange following the pass catching stud being dealt a hefty $54K fine. After punting a ball away and yelling at Mayock to “fine me for that”, it seemed like a split between the two sides was inevitable which led Brown to take to Instagram and publicly request his release from the team. Head coach Jon Gruden still believed that AB would take part in their Week 1 game against Denver, but just hours after they voided the $29+ million worth of guaranteed money in his contract and smacking him with $215,000 worth of fines for conduct detrimental to the team (stemming from the Mayock incident), Brown found himself freed.
WITH Antonio Brown up for grabs for the entire NFL community, the rumour mill quickly kicked into overdrive with every man, woman and dog half heartedly linking Brown to the New England Patriots. So of course, when news broke a few hours after his release he was in fact planning to sign with New England, Twitter and the rest of the Internet went into meltdown. Pairing one of the greatest receivers in the 21st century with perhaps the best quarterback to ever play in Tom Brady left us thinking everyone else was now competing for second.
HOWEVER, much like the other events surrounding AB, this story was far from done. Following his one-year, $15mil commitment to the Pats a report surfaced stating that Brown’s former trainer Brittany Taylor was filing a lawsuit, charging him with sexual assault and rape. Rumours were swirling over Brown’s availability to suit up for New England and if they were going to instantly drop him after these allegations were made, but Brown avoided being added to the commissioners exempt list, clearing the way for him to make his Patriots debut against Miami last weekend. Hauling in half his targets for four receptions, 56 yards and a touchdown in a 43-0 triumph, many thought this could be the beginning of a beautiful pairing in the AFC East.
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IN the past week since that first match, a second sexual assault allegation has been made against Brown, leading to more behavioural questions and speculation over Brown’s future in the league. Nike reacted swiftly choosing to dump Brown as a sponsored athlete which seemed like a smart move after it was revealed he had sent threatening and intimidating text messages to his second accuser in recent days, including photos of her children.
BROWN didn’t really leave New England with much of a choice after these latest issues surfaced with the Patriots declaring they will be releasing the wideout. It’s a stunning fall from grace for Antonio, who went from being labelled as a bit of a diva and drama queen, to now, within the space of 12 months, left to fight for his footballing future. With Brown trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild his reputation you have to wonder who will be brave enough to give him another chance after the latest whirlwind. Or, he may have to deal with the harsh reality that his days as a star in the NFL are not only numbered, but they may be over.
*UPDATE*: So in the 24 hours since I wrote this article Antonio Brown has launched into a Twitter tirade stating that he’ll never play in the NFL again. Like I said a troubled, tumultuous timeline…
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