Former Albany Empire players and coaches plan to former a class-action lawsuit against team owner Antonio Brown for non-payment of their final game checks, coach Moe Leggett told the Albany Times-Union.
Players that were signed up for direct deposit were paid after the team’s 68-24 loss to the Orlando Predators at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on June 9.
But after the National Arena League kicked the Empire out for Brown failing to make required dues payments on June 15, those payments were reversed and deducted from players’ bank accounts. Players that were not signed up for direct deposit say they have not been paid.
Leggett said he tried to reach Brown to work things out, but the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has been unresponsive.
“I’m frustrated,” he said. “I’m frustrated. I tried to give (Brown) the benefit of the doubt. I tried to work with him. I was trying to be the peacemaker, the mediator to make sure things ran smoothly and just under the radar. But I can no longer do that.”
Leggett said he is now looking for a lawyer to file suit against Brown and the trust that the represents. It’s not clear how many former players intend to joint the suit.
Brown has dealt with numerous legal issues since leaving the Steelers. Twice in the past year, he has had arrest warrants issued for non-payment of child support, including one incident where he barricaded himself in a Florida home to avoid being arrested. Brown eventually worked out that legal predicament.
He bought into the team, which is the successor to the one his father played for in Albany, before this season. His season as owner of the Empire was filled with drama from the start. There was a dispute with his co-owners about the percentage of the team that he owed, he was kicked off the field by his own security staff, he fired multiple coaches, the team was kicked out of hotel rooms for non-payment and Brown said that he would play for the team, only to bail at the last moment, citing a paperwork technicality.
Brown told reporters in Albany that he intends for the Empire to join the Arena Football League, which is reviving itself for the 2024 season, next spring.