In March, former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown embarked on a new business venture as he became co-owner of the Albany Empire, a football organization within the National Arena League.
On Saturday, the Empire defeated the Orlando Predators 70-33 in the team’s opening game of the season but it did not come without drama.
In a video posted to Brown’s Twitter, a security guard kicked Brown off the Empire’s field at Albany’s MVP Arena during halftime of the game.
“Get off of the field right now,” said the security guard aggressively. “Do you hear me, you need to get off of the field right now.”
A man off-camera told the security guard that Brown “owns” the team, to which the security guard replied, “No, he doesn’t.”
Rumors concerning the ownership of the Empire began to swirl over the past two weeks with Brown claiming full ownership of the team on Saturday. Other reports suggested that Brown owns 80% of the team.
“I’m the owner, 100 percent owner. I don’t take that lightly,” said Brown.
Brown joined as a co-owner with Mike Kwarta and minority owners Charlotte and Steve von Schiller. The reported breakdown of ownership was each Brown and Kwarta owned 47.5% of the organization while the von Schillers owned the remaining 5%.
In an article by the Times Union, Kwarta refuted Brown’s claim as he stated that there has not been a change in ownership since Brown’s arrival in March.
Prior to kickoff, Brown seemingly thanked Kwarta for the full ownership of the team.
“I’m grateful for Mike giving me the opportunity to further my role for the business. I just thank Mike for being able to let me come in and further the business and help me sustain Albany football, because that’s kind of been his goal from when I came here,” said Brown.
On April 13, Rodger Wyland of WNYT reported that Brown potentially owned 80% of the Empire. The same day, Ryan Larkin, an associate of Brown, confirmed Wyland’s claim as he said the paperwork was finalized the week prior.
There appears to be confusion about who really owns the Empire. Reports show that Brown is at least a co-owner of the team but after the security guard’s outburst on Sunday, who really knows?