Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was anything but a team player during his 12-year NFL career, but he has a different perspective now that he’s part owner of the National Arena League’s Albany Empire.
“As an owner I finally see now why it’s important to make everyone know no one is bigger then the Team! As a player I always thought opposite!” Brown tweeted on Saturday night.
I guess it’s better late than never, but Brown’s unprompted tweet is still pretty ironic, as he was the poster child of narcissism, self-interest and vanity during his NFL career. Brown won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2020, but his career came to a conclusion in the following year when he abruptly took off his shoulder pads and undershirt and jogged to the locker room at MetLife Stadium during the third quarter of Tampa Bay’s Week 17 matchup with the New York Jets. AB was cut by the Buccaneers shortly after, marking the final strike of a tumultuous four years for the once beloved All-Pro wide receiver.
The bizarre behavior really started to come to service in 2018, when he quit on the Steelers in Week 17 with a playoff spot still up for grabs. Brown was at odds with Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith Schuster (because he won Team MVP) and the Steelers, so he was traded to the Raiders in the offseason. Brown’s tenure with the Raiders didn’t even it make it to Week 1, as he had several disagreements with Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock over his preferred helmet model and his lack of availability due to burned feet while using a cryotherapy tank for recovery. Brown even threatened to punch Mayock in the face before punting a football and remarking, “fine me for that.” The Raiders finally had enough and released the troubled wide receiver. Brown joined Tom Brady in New England shortly after but that didn’t last long, either.
On Sept. 10, 2019, Brown was accused by his former trainer of three separate incidents of sexual assault and rape, which resulted in his release from the Patriots. Brown was out of football for the rest of 2019 and served an eight-game suspension to start the 2020 season due to multiple violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Along with sexual assault and rape allegations (which ultimately got settled), Brown has also been sued several times over the last few years for a variety of reasons — ranging from allegedly throwing furniture from the 14th story balcony of a Florida apartment building to unpaid wages for services. He was also ordered to pay $1.2 million to a moving truck driver after an alleged 2020 assault. Brown reportedly failed to respond or show up to any of the hearings in the case.
It appears that Brown is trying to put his checkered past behind him now and start a new chapter in his role as part owner of the Albany Empire. Brown’s father, Eddie Brown, was a star offensive specialist for the Albany Firebirds in the 1990s. Brown grew up going to the games, so Albany and the franchise holds a special place in his heart. Brown’s dad also joined the organization as the vice president of football operations and will be involved in the team’s day-to-day operations.
Brown’s presence definitely creates a boost for the organization, town and the league itself. On April 1, Brown tweeted, “First Albany Empire game sold out = AB Unlocked 😎.”