For Antonio Brown, business is … bad. It’s really bad.
The Raiders were prepared to suspend the star wideout for their 2019 season-opener against the Broncos, according to multiple reports, and general manager Mike Mayock said the 31-year-old was not at the team’s facility Thursday ahead of Monday night’s game. A heated verbal exchange between Brown and Mayock triggered the possible suspension after Brown posted a fine letter from Mayock on Instagram.
An apology from Brown apparently helped to quell concerns from management, as Oakland coach Jon Gruden told reporters Friday that Brown will play in Week 1. However, this goes well beyond a “screaming match” and punted football.
Brown has been starting small fires within the Raiders organization all offseason and forcing Mayock and Gruden to put them out. Steelers fans likely aren’t surprised by any of this — Oakland residents can probably hear them laughing from across the country — but even based on standards set by previous “diva” wide receivers, Brown has managed to pack a lot of chaos into a short window.
MORE: Brown’s meltdown offers evidence that Steelers managed him proficiently
March 2019: The introduction
Following an unceremonious exit from Pittsburgh, Brown is traded to Oakland in exchange for … a couple draft picks. (At least the Steelers get to keep his $21 million cap hit! What a deal!) Shortly after the trade, the Raiders restructure Brown’s contract, which includes a guaranteed $30 million at signing.
At his Raiders introductory press conference, Brown dishes out the kinds of quotes that should now be read aloud with a heavily sarcastic voice.
“I bring accountability,” Brown says. “I bring actions. Not what I say, what I do. How I approach things. Holding guys accountable in the receiver room.”
The more alarming comments may have come prior to the trade, though. In an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Brown makes it clear he doesn’t need football.
“I don’t need to prove nothing to anyone,” Brown said. “If they wanna play, they going to play by my rules.”
(Side note: Never go full blonde mustache.)
July 2019: The hot air balloon
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July/August 2019: The frostbite
Brown leaves the team July 30 to see a foot specialist following a cryotherapy accident. He reportedly entered a cryotherapy machine without proper footwear, and that turned the bottom of his feet into a frostbitten Tim Burton nightmare.
“I got circumcised on my feet,” Brown says during an episode of “Hard Knocks” on HBO. “Hopefully my feet (are) born again and I frickin’ can run faster.”
WARNING: THIS PHOTO WILL RUIN YOUR DINNER.
August 2019: The chef
A celebrity chef files a $38,000 civil lawsuit against Brown, claiming he was hired by Brown for multiple days of work but never got an explanation for why he didn’t receive payment.
“I’ve cooked for countless NFL superstars and celebrities,” chef Stefano Tedeschi tells ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “Never once have I had one problem (until this). My food is so good, and my mannerisms in someone’s home is second to none.”
Be honest. In the pile of AB-related stories, did you know this happened?
August 2019: The response
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger opens up about his relationship with Brown and admits he shouldn’t have called out Brown publicly following a loss to the Broncos.
“I wish I wouldn’t have done it,” Roethlisberger tells NBC’s Michele Tafoya. “We saw what happened, and it ruined a friendship. … Just got caught up in the emotion, the heat of the battle.”
Brown’s response: “Shut up already.”
Yep, friendship definitely ruined.
August/September 2019: The helmet
Ah, the helmet saga. Sporting News’ Tadd Haislop broke down the issue in excruciating detail, but we will go with the abridged version here.
Brown takes the drama to a new level by filing a grievance with the NFL over its helmet safety standards, which prevent him from wearing the same helmet he has used throughout his career. He reportedly tells the Raiders he will not play unless he can use his old helmet model. (He later denies threatening to retire.) He even tries to take the field by painting Oakland colors onto his old helmet. It … doesn’t work.
After an arbitrator rules against Brown, he launches a Twitter search for an approved helmet in exchange for a “signed, practice-worn Raiders helmet.” He then reportedly files another grievance because he loves this helmet. He loses again.
Mayock reaches a breaking point and says Brown needs to be “all in or all out.” Fortunately for Mayock, Brown finally chooses an acceptable helmet in early September, one that makes him feel “agile and comfortable.”
Glad to see Brown and Mayock are finally on the same page.
September 2019: The fine
So, Brown and Mayock are definitely not on the same page.
Missing mandatory team activities costs Brown more than $53,000, so he responds by posting Mayock’s fine letter on Instagram for the world to see: “When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now.”
Sharing internal memos on social media seems like a bad idea.
September 2019: The confrontation
Unhappy about the fine letter, Brown snaps at Mayock and is reportedly held back by multiple teammates, including linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who infamously knocked Brown out of a playoff game a few years back with a brutal hit to the head. Brown initiated the heated verbal exchange with Mayock, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, who reports Brown called Mayock a “cracker” and repeatedly cursed at him.
Mayock and Gruden don’t directly address the incident, but multiple reports indicate the Raiders plan to suspend Brown and explore the possibility of voiding the guaranteed $30 million they gave him only a few months earlier.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, jumps into crisis management mode and tries to squash any talk of a supension.
“If it’s up to us, (Brown) would like to play,” Rosenhaus tells ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “But, ultimately, that’s going to be their decision. He would like to honor his contract and fulfill his commitment to the Raiders. That’s what we’re trying to hammer out with the team right now.
“Nothing’s been finalized. I’m not aware of any final decisions. Just trying to get back on track at this point. The team asked Antonio to stay home today, and obviously, we want him to get back to work. We’re trying to get through that right now.”
September 2019: The apology … and return
Standing with Raiders captains, Brown offers an “emotional apology” at a team meeting, per Anderson. Brown, only a day removed from facing a suspension and possibly the end of his time in Oakland, is now in play for Week 1, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Gruden then confirms Brown will play against Broncos, saying the team is “excited” to have Brown back and “ready to move on.”
What happens next? When it comes to Brown’s future, nothing is off the table.
September 2019: The video
As we said, nothing is off the table. Brown drops a video hours after the apology and news that the Raiders had fined him for his conduct. In the video, Brown airs what purports to be a telephone conversation between him and Gruden. The main question from “Coach”: “Do you want to be a Raider or not?” Brown’s response: “Man, I’ve been trying to be a Raider since Day 1.”
The video ends with Brown saying, “This is my life. Ain’t no more games.”