Are the Oakland Raiders and Antonio Brown headed for a divorce?
Terrell Owens was called a “drama queen” for his off-field comments throughout his career. Chad Johnson was known for his on-field antics, going as far as changing his last name to keep his jersey numbers.
Those petty circumstances now look like child’s play compared to the drama that has unfolded inside the Raiders locker room. On a night where the game America loves returns for his centennial season, the Antonio Brown era will take center stage once again.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers now are just a storyline compared to the news out west. And now Oakland is looking like a $30 million fool for letting this drag on.
We thought the AB drama would come to an end. With a new helmet, feet healed and a season on the rise, the former Pittsburgh Steelers was expected to transcend the Raiders’ offense to a new level.
Now, he’s perhaps the main reason they’ll be derailed another year.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Brown and Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock we involved in a heated conversation Wednesday afternoon. The altercation got so bad that players were forced to hold the receiver back from physically attacking Mayock according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur.
All this blew over due to a fine Brown posted on his Instagram story from the organization. In the letter, Mayock detailed about $54,000 in fines for missing time during training camp. Brown, however, felt the fine was unjust.
ICYMI, here's what Antonio Brown posted this morning on his Instagram story, showing displeasure with being fined by the Raiders for missing part of training camp. https://t.co/Jb2Va3cBt6 pic.twitter.com/OCzB2CFyOF
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) September 4, 2019
Now the Raiders have suspended Brown from all actives until further notice. Mayock was short and to the point when addressing the media Thursday afternoon.
#Raiders GM Mike Mayock said Antonio Brown is not in the building, and that’s all that Mayock has to say right now.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 5, 2019
So now, let’s look back. Who won the Brown trade?
Hint: It’s not Oakland.
The saga that won’t end
When Mayock and John Gruden inquired about trading for Brown, the Steelers jumped at the first call. The team was fed up with his shenanigans and elected to stand behind their coach and quarterback.
Initially, Brown was expected to join the Buffalo Bills. He refused to play there, stating in a deleted tweet that the report was “fake news.”
— AB (@AB84) March 24, 2019
In an article written by the Buffalo News, Brown was stated that he “wouldn’t waste his time” listening to Buffalo’s offer. With only one team in the market, the Steelers accepted a third and fifth-round selection, as well as eating $21 million to get Brown out of the building.
The Raiders turned around and signed their new top weapon to a $30.125 million guaranteed contract. Within in months of the new deal, the drama would slowly peel back.
First, there was the foot issue. Brown was dealing with frostbite after not wearing protective footwear in a cryotherapy session. His feet were severely damaged and would take time to heal, keeping him out of minicamp and the start of training camp.
Then came helmet-gate, where Brown elected to fight the league after being told he would need to switch helmets due to being out of date. Brown chose to appeal the process twice and lost both hearings.
Then and only then did Mayock or Gruden step in.
“Here’s the bottom line: He’s upset about the helmet issue,” Mayock said last month. “We have supported that, we appreciate that. But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. We’re hoping he’s back soon.”
Brown finally decided on a helmet in the final week of camp. Donning the new Xenith LLC, it seemed like the drama had come to an end.
Nope, it was only getting started.
With the fines for missing mandatory practice, players and coaches now were forced to get involved between the two men. Brown was sent home from practice and it was reported just before the end of media sessions, he was overheard barking at a strength and conditioning coach.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) September 4, 2019
The Brown Ultimatum
In one swift action, Mayock let Brown know that it’s his way or the highway. All signs indicate that the Brown will be taking the highway at the moment.
“Antonio Brown is not in the building today,” Mayock told reporters Thursday in a brief press conference. “He’s won’t be practicing. I don’t have any more information for you right now. And when I have some and it becomes appropriate, you guys will all get it. I promise you. But that’s it for today. Thank you.”
The Raiders are now caught between a rock and a hard place. One option is to suspend him, hope he returns with a better attitude and becomes a factor into their offense. The other is taking the legal precautions to try and get out of the guaranteed deal.
Should Brown be on the roster by 4 p.m. Saturday, the Raiders will be obligated to pay Brown for his efforts, even if he does not suit up for them. Oakland would have justifiable cause with the reports of the altercation, plus his unpaid fines.
Brown was granted a five-year, $42.5 million deal following his second season in Pittsburgh. Since then, his ability to be a social media presence and instigator in the locker room has been tolerated. Walking over the organization that gave him a shot, Brown ruined relationships with teammates and coaches that allowed him to become the player we now know.
But name a time where a high profile athlete had to be retained from striking an executive. There’s a pretty good guess that none of you can.
Despite the perhaps “unreasonable” circumstances Brown has worked within his tenure with Oakland, physical altercation will never be acceptable. And when Vontaze Burfict is the instigator of peace, that’s all you need to know.
Perhaps Brown will play another snap in the NFL. It can’t be with the Raiders. After the offseason saga that seemed to never end, it’s time for the organization to end the nightmare and prepare for the season.
One player does not define your roster. And one player can’t carry a team to the postseason. Antonio Brown’s inexcusable actions now have set the Raiders back, hoping they can walk away somewhat of a winner.
Maybe the Steelers were onto something when they “settled” for two average selections. Now, everyone is wondering how the heck did Pittsburgh even get that?
Cole Thompson is the Lead NFL writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MrColeThompson.