Will Antonio Brown’s Off-Field Antics Prevent Him From Getting Inducted Into Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Antonio Brown's recent bankruptcy filing is the latest in a long list of off-field incidents that could impact the former receiver's Hall of Fame chances.

Two years after Antonio Brown left the NFL, the mercurial wide receiver announced his retirement.

Once thought to be on a warp-speed path to Hall of Fame induction, Brown’s chances of enshrinement appear murky after numerous on- and off-field incidents that led the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move away from the receiver despite his immense talent.

Brown’s first chance to enter the Hall of Fame will be in 2027, but that class could be the first in history to feature three first-ballot selections: running back Adrian Peterson, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and Brown’s former quarterback in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger.

Hall of Fame voters are not supposed to factor off-the-field incidents into their discussions, but Brown’s antics have been so public and, at times, so disturbing, that it would be impossible for voters not to weigh them silently in their own minds.

The Hall of Fame Case for Antonio Brown

In nine seasons with the Steelers, Brown had 837 catches for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns and was named All-Pro four times while earning seven Pro Bowl selections.

And that includes his rookie season in 2010, when he played sparingly in nine games, catching just 16 passes for 167 yards and no touchdowns.

Looking at the last five receivers to go into the Hall of Fame who played the majority of their career after 2000, Brown’s numbers with the Steelers are right in line with what all of them produced in their first nine seasons.

  • Calvin Johnson – 731 receptions, 11,619 yards, 83 touchdowns, three All-Pros, six Pro Bowls
  • Isaac Bruce – 619 receptions, 9,480 yards, 63 TDs, zero All-Pros, four Pro Bowls
  • Randy Moss – 676 receptions, 10,700 yards, 101 TDs, three All-Pros, four Pro Bowls
  • Terrell Owens – 669 yards, 9,772 yards, 95 TDs, four All-Pros, five Pro Bowls
  • Marvin Harrison – 845 receptions, 11,185 yards, 98 TDs, two All-Pros, six Pro Bowls

Johnson retired after nine seasons, while the others continued to pile up numbers and awards while extending their careers much further – Bruce (16 seasons), Moss (15), Owens (15), Harrison (13).

Brown averaged 84.2 receiving yards per game, which is fourth most all-time behind Justin Jefferson (96.5), Jones (87.9), and first-ballot Hall of Famer Johnson (86.1).

Longevity should not be an issue for Brown. He played three more seasons after Pittsburgh shipped him off to Oakland, where he never appeared in a game, even though he only appeared in 16 games over those final three seasons.

From 2013-18, Brown led the league in receiving yards twice and was second twice. He led the league in receptions once and finished second three times. He was also first in touchdowns once and second once, too.

For the duration of that six-season stretch, Brown was tops in all three categories, leading Julio Jones by 121 catches and 571 yards, and out-pacing DeAndre Hopkins in touchdowns by 20.

Brown never had fewer than 101 catches, 1,284 yards, or eight TDs in any of those seasons.

He averaged 6.4 receptions per game, which is tied for fourth all-time behind Michael Thomas (6.8), Jefferson (6.5), and Keenan Allen (6.5).

Brown also returned four punts for touchdowns and ranked top 10 in the league in punt return average four times.

Brown’s Legal Trouble and Off-Field Issues

Brown’s personal issues began in 2018 when he was the subject of two lawsuits stemming from an incident where he threw furniture off a 14th-floor balcony, nearly hitting a 22-month-old child on the ground.

A few months later, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin benched Brown for the season finale after he skipped practices that week.

That prompted Brown to request a trade, and the Steelers dealt him to the Raiders. But he never played for the team. Oakland released him after an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock and multiple unexcused absences.

The Patriots quickly signed him, and Brown scored a touchdown in his first – and only – game with the team. He was cut the following week and announced he was retiring.

Brown un-retired the following summer and reunited with Bruce Arians, his offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, and Tom Brady, who threw his only touchdown as a member of the Patriots, by signing with the Buccaneers.

After serving an eight-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Brown caught 45 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season and added a one-yard touchdown catch from Brady in the team’s Super Bowl win against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The following season, Brown served another suspension, this time three games for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols by forging his vaccination status.

In the season finale, he took off his jersey, shoulder pads, and gloves and walked off the field bare-chested in the middle of the third quarter.

And he’s never appeared on an NFL field since.

Brown also has been sued for sexual assault, and he’s been involved in numerous domestic assault complaints.

In 2020, Brown pleaded no contest to felony burglary with a battery charge after an incident with a moving truck driver.

In 2023, Brown purchased a professional team, the Albany Empire, only to have the franchise kicked out of the National Arena League when Brown refused to make payments.

Antonio Brown’s Career Earnings and Bankruptcy

On Wednesday, Brown filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to a report from the Times Union of Albany, New York, he owes nearly $3 million to eight different creditors.

According to Spotrac, Brown earned $80.7 million during his 12-year career.

The highest-earning season of Brown’s career was 2017 when the Steelers paid him $17 million as part of a four-year, $68 million extension he signed a few weeks after Pittsburgh lost to New England in the 2016 AFC Championship Game.

Brown was fined 15 times for a total of $577,460 during his NFL career. Among the fines were four for excessive celebration, one for taunting, one for cleating Browns punter Spencer Lanning in 2014, another for kicking Lanning in 2017, two for conduct detrimental to the league, and one for conduct detrimental to the team (Raiders).

Will Antonio Brown Get Inducted Into the Hall of Fame?

Several voters have gone on the record suggesting Brown deserves strong Hall of Fame consideration based on his production.

When his name comes up for consideration with the Class of 2027, voters are not supposed to discuss all of his arrests, lawsuits, fines, and bizarre behavior. But they are human and all of those things no doubt will play a role in the decision-making process for a number of the voters in the room.

There is still a lot of time for Brown to rehabilitate – or further damage – his reputation and, with it, his case for the Hall of Fame.

His chances of making it in 2027, along with Roethlisberger and Peterson, who have also had legal issues, are slim.

Owens’ antics played a big role in his not getting elected until eight years after his career ended. If voters follow a similar timeline with Brown, the receiver would be looking at induction in 2030.

But a lot can happen before then, and any more incidents in which Brown runs afoul of the law could delay his induction further, possibly permanently.

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