First, Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver Antonio Brown posted a YouTube video (provided below) of a private conversation with the team’s coach, Jon Gruden. This was followed by an instagram post in which the star player asked to be released. Finally the Raiders, having had enough, did just that. They released Brown, a move that will cost him more than $29 million in guaranteed money.
After a series of provocations, the last straw for the Raiders came when Brown engaged in an intense argument with the team’s general manager, Mike Mayock. Brown was angry after receiving a letter from Mayock telling him that he’d been fined for missing practice.
Here is a copy of the letter.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 4, 2019
According to ESPN:
The Raiders fined Brown $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team, league sources told Schefter on Saturday.
By fining Brown, the Raiders voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money in his deal, sources told Schefter.
In addition, the Raiders sent Brown a letter stating that he no longer will be entitled to termination pay, sources told Schefter. As a result, Brown would have been playing on a week-to-week basis with both his guaranteed money voided and lack of termination pay.
Below is the instagram post in which Brown asked to be released. He wrote, “And that’s fine! I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines. Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years. ‘I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong.’ Release me.”
Throughout the pre-season, there were constant issues with Brown. “First, he was injured in a bizarre cryo-therapy accident with his feet. Then he missed some time over an issue regarding his helmet.”
In the YouTube video (which can be viewed below), Brown takes a call from Gruden. The time of the call is unknown.
Gruden asks, “What the hell is going on, man?”
Brown replies, “Just a villain all over the news, man.”
Gruden says, “You’re not a villain. You’re the most misunderstood f***ing human being. Then he asks Brown, “Do you want to be a Raider or not?”
Brown tells Gruden, “Man, I’ve been trying to be a Raider since day one. I’ve been f***ing working my ass off harder than anyone. I don’t know why it’s a question of me being a Raider. It’s like do you guys want me to be a Raider?”
Gruden says, “Just play football. How hard is that? You’re a great football player. Just play football.”
Brown explains that it’s not that simple and says, “I’m more than just a football player, man. I’m a real person. I’m a real person. It ain’t about the football, I know I can do that. I show you guys that on the daily. This is my life. Ain’t no more games.”
In all: Antonio Brown screamed at Mike Mayock, punted a ball and yelled “fine me for that.” And they did, more than $215K, plus voiding all his guarantees of $30M. AB asked for his release, knowing he’s entitled to $0. And the team hasn’t responded. Two days until game day.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 7, 2019
According to Deadline, Brown signed with the Raiders “after a rocky break-up with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he butted heads with teammates and particularly quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He is now an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team, although he can’t play a game until Week 2.”
Although Brown is a tremendously gifted athlete, it is doubtful that he will be able to replace the enormous contract he’s given up with the Raiders.
Coach Gruden issued a statement which said, “We just have exhausted everything. We tried every way possible to make it work. And all I’m going to say, is that it is disappointing. I’m really proud of our players, our coaches, our owner, our front office. We did everything we could to make this work. I’m sorry it didn’t. I apologize, but I will tell you that I am very proud of what we did as an organization to try. And I wish Antonio nothing but the best. And I’m sorry we never got a chance to see Antonio in the Silver & Black.”
I asked a local football coach to comment on Brown. He said, “Brown is a great football player, but he has a coconut for a head. Just another great ball player who cannot get along in society. He threw away $30 million in guaranteed money…He could have gone down as one of the best ever. It all goes back to the coconut for a head. Sad story.”