The Antonio Brown saga: A tantrum that propels a franchise, plummets another

In a bizarre twist, Antonio Brown was released by the Oakland Raiders and signed with the New England Patriots in less than 24 hours. Wide-receiver Brown has been a hot topic these last couple of days, and not in a good way. It started with him missing Raider’s training camp in August due to a foot injury, which was later revealed to be blistered feet.

On Aug. 9, he filed a helmet grievance against the NFL, attempting to wear the old helmet he’s worn throughout his career. He then filed another helmet grievance a week after his first one was rejected, which led him to skip team practice in protest over the helmet issue. Mike Mayock, general manager of the Oakland Raiders, talked to reporters, saying the team supported Brown’s decision over the helmet issue, but not with missing practice, especially with a new team. “So, from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out.”

On Aug. 22, Brown missed a walk-through when the Raiders traveled to Winnipeg for their second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, which ultimately resulted in Brown receiving a fine. On Sept. 4, the helmet issue came to a close when Brown decided to wear a new helmet by football-gear manufacturer Xenith. On the same date, Brown posted a letter on his Instagram from Mayock about being fined $40,000 for missing practice on August 18, and $13,950 for missing a walk-through on August 22. Brown wrote in the caption “WHEN YOUR TEAM WANT TO HATE BUT THERE’S NO STOPPING ME NOW DEVIL IS A LIE. EVERYONE GOT TO PAY THIS YEAR SO WE CLEAR.” Reportedly, Brown confronted Mayock during practice and got into a heated argument where teammates had to separate the two men. Another report says Brown called Mayock a “cracker” and threatened to punch him in the face, which led him to punt a football and tell Mayock, “Fine me for that!”

On Sept. 5, reports started surfacing that the Raiders would either suspend Brown or release him. Brown did not attend Thursday’s practice. On Sept. 6, ESPN Josina Anderson reported that Brown was back on Friday for practice and issued an apology to the team with the captains standing with him. Head coach Jon Gruden then said Brown would not be suspended and would be cleared to play against the Denver Broncos on Monday night.

All seemed to be going well until Brown posted another video on his Instagram account that seems to show a recorded phone conversation he had with coach Gruden about his state of mind, and if he really wants to be a Raider. There’s no confirmation about when the phone call took place. On Saturday morning, Brown asked the Raiders via an Instagram post to release him after he received a fine from the team due to his altercation with Mayock. “I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong. Release me @raiders #NOMore #theyputblindersonahorseforareason #NoMoreFake.” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the fine was for $215,073.53, which voided the guaranteed money left on Brown’s $30 million contract. Later that day, the Raiders announced on social media that they released the wide receiver just three hours after his Instagram post.

Antonio Brown has now signed a 1-year $15 million deal with the New England Patriots, who are now the favorites to win the Super Bowl for a 7th time. In March 2019, the Raiders organization welcomed Antonio Brown with open arms, and knew what they were getting when they acquired him via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers as a 3rd round pick. However, nobody, not even the Raiders, knew that Brown would go to such lengths to make himself an easy target for negative media focus. The Raiders could only take so much of Browns antics, and felt it was finally time to pull the trigger. Generally, no player should receive special treatment and have everything their way, no matter how great of a player they are. If Brown thought he was going to have his way with the Raiders, he was surely mistaken. The Raiders organization did nothing but support and work with him the whole time.