This offseason, the Oakland Raiders traded a pair of draft picks (3rd & 5th) to the Pittsburgh Steelers to acquire Antonio Brown, one of the greatest wide receivers in the history of the NFL (he has a real argument to being the best since Jerry Rice). They followed up that trade by inking the star receiver to a deal with over $29 million in guarantees. That acquisition didn’t immediately fix the Raiders offense by any means, but you suddenly had to take their passing attack seriously because AB is always a threat to take over a game by himself (probably even with Derek Carr throwing him the ball, though we may never know).
After Brown arrived in Oakland, things seemed to be fine, at first. In August, they started to take a turn when Brown managed to get frostbite on his feet from something called Whole Body Cryotherapy. In effect, it is supposed to be similar to an ice bath, though there is some debate over how effective it actually is, but that’s neither here nor there. The takeaway here is that Brown neglected to wear the proper footwear into the chamber, and apparently that’s how you end up with frostbite. That little story was certainly embarrassing for Brown and the Raiders, but it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.
Almost immediately following that news, Brown started complaining about not being able to wear his preferred style of helmet. It was understandable to a degree. The man has been wearing the same equipment for years and he is comfortable with it. Unfortunately for Brown, the NFL had determined that the old style did not meet new safety standards and so they would not allow him to use it. Brown naturally filed a grievance against the NFL and started threatening to retire if he wasn’t able to use the helmet he wanted. Because that wasn’t ridiculous enough, he also tried painting his old helmet to pass it off as a new Raiders helmet. Shockingly, that did not work (though it was pretty funny). Ultimately, Brown gave in and returned to the team and it looked as though he was ready to terrorize AFC West defenses starting Monday.
That would not be how the week turned out. The Raiders fined Brown for missing a pair of practices and he... did not take it well. Afterward, Brown approached general manager Mike Mayock at practice and proceeded to get in a screaming match with him where he hurled profanity at the GM and referred to him as “cracker.” This predictably resulted in the announcement that Brown would be suspended. Perhaps even more predictably, the Raiders then announced that he would not be suspended. There was news of an emotional apology. Everything seemed back to normal.
Everything was not back to normal. Brown put out a video that frankly has to be seen to be believed.
Yes, part of that audio is a taped phone call with head coach Jon Gruden. California is a two-party consent state, but Gruden initially played it off as though he was amused by it. Anyway, somewhere around 16 hours after the “tearful apology,” things took another left turn when Brown demanded his release. Why did he do that? Oh:
By fining Antonio Brown $215,073.53 last night for conduct detrimental to the team on Sept. 4, the Raiders voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money in his deal, per league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2019
This could help explain why Brown is now asking the Raiders for his release.
This whole story does not even feel real. It has been an incredible embarrassment for the Raiders (Al Davis is no doubt rolling over in his grave, and he was no stranger to embarrassment) and I cannot get enough of it. AB might never play a down for the Raiders, but he is, without a doubt, my favorite Raider.
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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 @raiders #NOMore #theyputblindersonahorseforareason #NoMoreFake