Antonio Brown has been the talk of the NFL (and public) for his football skills, his attitude, and most recently his actions outside of the field. The former New England Patriots wide receiver was set to be one of the biggest names in football, but he may have just ruined his chances at ever playing again due to the allegations against him that came to light in September 2019. There is a lot about Brown that the world does not know, and while there are many personal elements to him, this is more about Brown’s controversial background that lead to where he is today – in NFL and public opinion lockdown.
Antonio Brown is currently being accused of assaulting a trainer he worked with back in June 2017 and again in May 2018. The details are graphic and have been on display by way of text messages that he sent her. The allegations have yet to be proven one way or another, although it does not look favorable for Brown. So how did he get here? Released from the team that plucked him not one month before these allegations came to light, and his name no longer one anyone want to associate with in the NFL?
Here is what you need to know about the athlete.
The public first started talking about Brown when we all learned that he was no longer with the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite having a five-year contract with them that only began in 2017. In March 2018, Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders, yet never played a single game for them, which needless to say was filled with controversy and public controversy.
He was known as a player who had a lot of tension with others, including his former Steelers teammate Ben Roethlisberger. This was jus the beginning of Brown’s diva tendencies that would come to light quickly as the months wore on.
When Brown was with the Raiders, not only did he not play a single game for them, but he also skipped several practices during their offseason as well as their preseason training camp. That resulted in the General Manager of the Raiders, Mike Mayock, fining Brown twice on September 4, 2019 with a cost totaling $53,950.
Brown was not at all calm about being fined and took to his Instagram story, saying, “When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now devil is a lie. Everyone got to pay this year so we clear.” He snapped a photo of the letter so we could all see.
Not two days had passed from Brown receiving that letter and posting on his social media when he shared a YouTube video featuring a conversation he had with the Raiders’ head coach, Jon Gruden. Gruden was asking Brown what was going on, to which he replied that he wanted to “control [his] own narrative,” and essentially asked the Raiders to “Free me!”
After that stunt, Brown was fined $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team, and also voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money that was a part of his deal. On Saturday, September 7, 2019, Brown was officially released by the Raiders. Not hours passed when the world then learned that he was signed with the Patriots!
Prior to the New England Patriots drama, Brown made headlines when he was still with the Raiders due to his desire to continue to play in a helmet that he had played in for 10 years. The helmet needed to be replaced because it was no longer held up to the NFL’s standards, but Brown was not having it. Brown had played in that helmet his entire career, and while we get the nostalgia of it all, he took it several steps too far.
Brown threatened to retire if he was not allowed to wear his helmet. He went as far as filing two grievances against the NFL – both grievances were denied. Brown eventually caved and settled on a new helmet in early September, shortly before the end of his Raiders career.
Around the same time as the helmet drama was circulating, Brown told his team that he could not play because he got, wait for it, frostbite on his toes! Brown went into a cryotherapy chamber when he was on a trip to France without the appropriate footwear and got himself frostbitten… badly.
He showed the world his feet during an episode of Hard Knocks on HBO. He said that he had hoped that his feet would be “born again” and that he could “run faster”. We are not sure that is how it works but wishful thinking can be good at time.
There were more fines on Brown’s tab than that from him not showing up for practice. Brown still had a serious one with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he was fined no less than three times for twerking when he achieved a touchdown, something that is not considered appropriate by the team. His fines with the Steelers totaled over $60,000.
During his time with the Steelers, Brown was on the reality competition show ‘Dancing with the Stars’, where he placed fourth on the show’s 22nd season. Brown also appeared on ‘The Masked Singer’ for one episode as he was eliminated on the episode he was on.
On Saturday, September 7, 2019 when the world was told that Brown was signed with the New England Patriots, there was pure uproar and shock. This deal happened as fast (or as quietly) as possible and no one saw it coming. Brown posted this image on his Instagram account, captioning it “The Patriot Way”.
His one-year deal with the Patriots was worth $15 million, $9 million of which was a signing bonus which he got upfront. The next day, the Steelers actually played the Patriots and lost 33-3 in the season opener. Brown was not in that game but it did not stop the public and news from talking about the Patriots new addition.
It was four days into Brown’s contract with the Patriots that news broke about allegations that he assaulted a trainer that worked with him years prior. There was a press conference that took place that evening about the season with coach Bill Belichick at the receiving end of the questions. It was on that evening that the New York Times reported of the allegations against Brown.
Britney Taylor was the woman and former trainer who said that Brown assaulted her. The Patriots released a statement that evening saying that they are taking the accusations “very seriously”. Brown and his team denied all of them.
When asked about his teammate, Tom Brady kept it professional and talked about the game, saying: “There’s a lot to learn. Coming in at this time of year, I would say, is challenging, but that’s just the situation. It happens a lot throughout the NFL. Different players change teams and so forth.”
Over the course of the days that followed, Brown kept his head down and went to practice along with Brady and other teammates, playing the model NFL player. Brown played his first game with the Patriots in his hometown of Miami, Florida, against the Miami Dolphins; helping the team win the game 43-0.
On September 20, 2019, just 11 days after being signed, the Patriots announced that they had released Brown from his contract, stating: “We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.” This all took place after yet another press conference where coach Belichick needed to cut it short as the questions were all about Brown.
The team saw Brown as a liability as the allegations made by Taylor were being brought to the public and being investigated by the NFL, with Brown’s actions being brought to question.
It seems that all of this was too much for Brown and so he took to Twitter saying: “Will not be playing in the NFL anymore these owners can cancel deals do whatever they want at anytime we will see if the NFLPA hold them accountable sad they can just void guarantees anytime going on 40m 2 months will see if they pay up!”
While we understand that frustration (normally) there is something to be said about being released for any job due to inappropriate behavior, especially when it is being accused as criminal and is being seriously investigated and you have not been cleared.
Another seemingly booted NFL player is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. For him, it all started in August 2016 during a preseason game where he knelt for the national anthem, sparking the controversy of the year and a movement that will follow as a result. It seems that Kaepernick has been ousted by the NFL with no one willing to hire him after the 49ers released him.
What normally would be the players fault in terms of his game and possible inappropriate actions is not so in this one as it seems, according to Kaepernick’s lawyer, that there is a case of collusion against Kaepernick.
The reason Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem back in 2016 and every game he was in thereafter, was due to his desire to raise awareness on the topic of police brutality and racism in the country. At the time he told NFL Media, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
He continued by saying, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he continued. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder… I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me — I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Initially, the 49ers were supporting Kaepernick and his cause, saying, “In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.” However, after the backlash started coming in from conservative parties, the tune changed.
Kaepernick’s movement, dubbed #TakeAKnee, spread across other NFL teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. In March 2017, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers, unable to get another team’s backing afterwards despite his stats in 2017 (16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions).
What ended up sealing Kaepernick’s fate was the current President of the United States. As soon as the President started tweeting his own opinion on Kaepernick and his movement, the pressure was too great for any other NFL team to touch him. Despite not currently playing for any NFL team, the world of pop culture came to his defense and supported his movement.
Kaepernick was honored with the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. It was there that he said, “I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today.”
Another NFL player who got himself into some hot water is Randy Gregory. The Dallas Cowboy defensive end was indefinitely suspended from playing in February 2019 after failing multiple substance tests and therefore violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and the terms of his already conditional reinstatement as he has been suspended several times before for such behavior.
Gregory is considered to be one of the most talented players on the team, but has not been allowed to play due to intermittent suspensions and now, the indefinite one that he is hoping to overturn.
Gregory missed 30 out of the 32 games over the course of two seasons due to the first three suspensions he received for substance abuse. The NFL and his coaches were trying to keep his career alive as they knew that he would be a great asset for them. In 2018, he had his best year yet, which is why his 2019 suspension came as a surprise to many.
Gregory was risking a profitable and high-profile football career many times over and it seemed harder and harder for the then 26-year-old to get clean.
In July 2019, Gregory filed an appeal to be reinstated to the NFL, posing a detailed and specific plan to do so. There would be constant treatment of Gregory and progress reports being brought back to the coach and heads, as well as mandatory and regular screenings.
While the paperwork was submitted, no decision has been made as of yet which is on its own quite bizarre as the process is usually 60 days, which we are far beyond. Gregory said, I’m working very hard to get to a place where I can be in control. It will be a happier place.”
At this point, Gregory is still suspended and is not with the Cowboys officially. There are those who think in the sports world that they are trying to make an example of Gregory in a positive way, giving him the time to do right by himself and getting clean and ready to really put this all behind him.
Older NFL rules would have him out of the sport and never see the field again, but there is still hope for Gregory should he truly want to put substances behind him and continue a bright career with the NFL.