Graphic by Alexandria Moore
In the world of sports, superstar Antonio Brown’s story is an oddity. What many considered to be the best trade of the offseason turned out to be the most disastrous. In six months, Brown went from being a very respected player to arguably being the most hated player in the league.
From the announcement of Brown’s signing in March to his release in early September, his presence with the Oakland Raiders caused many problems.
First, Brown missed a significant amount of training camp due to a foot injury sustained during a cryotherapy session. As the Raiders waited for the receiver to return, another episode in the saga began.
Brown refused to use any other helmet than the one he preferred to play in, which the league recently banned due to safety concerns. He threatened to retire if he couldn’t play with his helmet. Even though he eventually settled with a new helmet, he created yet another problem.
Brown uploaded a picture on his Instagram showing a letter containing fines from the Raiders as a result of missing mandatory practices.
At a team practice, Brown and the team’s general manager Mike Mayock got into an argument about the fines. Brown reportedly threatened Mayock.
According to NFL sports writer Adam Schefter, the Raiders issued Brown a $200,000 fine for the altercation with Mayock and subsequently voided the guaranteed $29 million in his contract. Brown then posted a video on his YouTube channel containing a taped phone call with the head coach John Gruden and then an Instagram message demanding his release from the Raiders. Shortly after, the team announced that they had released Brown. Hours later, the New England Patriots announced that they signed Brown to a one-year, $15 million contract.
Days later, Brown’s former trainer Britney Taylor filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault and rape.
Brown is still eligible to play, but the National Football League is investigating the alleged crime.
Whether you support or criticize him, Brown has acted very unprofessionally. In a professional setting, an employee would likely be immediately fired if he or she followed some of Brown’s actions.
Posting a private letter online, taping a personal conversation with your boss and blasting the organization through social media are actions that deserve consequences.
As much as the Raiders wanted Brown to be a part of the team, they were forced to discipline the receiver. The Raiders spent nearly all of their offseason defending Brown’s actions until they could not anymore.
After all of the controversy, the Patriots decided to take the risk of signing Brown. He is still one of the top receivers in the league, if not the best.
His talent and ability to play was never a question. The question is whether he can control his off-field antics, especially his apparent social media problem and the lawsuit accusing him of a serious crime.
As Brown looks to resume his football career, he should be very cautious of his conduct. While he may be one of the biggest superstars in the league, teams are starting to overlook his talent because of his erratic and self-absorbed behavior.
He needs to prove his worth to the league as not only a star player but also as a valuable teammate. Brown may thrive with the Patriots and silence his critics, but if he doesn’t correct his problems, his time in the NFL will soon come to an end.