The Redshirt Senior: The Many Mishaps of Antonio Brown

by Evan Griffith | 9/16/19 2:00am

Welcome back to campus; hopefully everyone had a refreshing and rewarding summer. After taking the last year off to evaluate my contract with The Dartmouth sports section, I’ve decided to return on a one-year deal to serve as a veteran presence in the locker room. Speaking outside of sports for a moment, part of my reasoning for returning to writing going into graduate study was to keep up with the skill before my time at Dartmouth ends. I spent the summer as an intern in a business role but spent time on the job writing and creating content for that business. Expression is rewarding and something that may go away in my adult life if I’m not diligent about keeping it up.

The other part of my reasoning is that Antonio Brown, the newest member of the football team whose fandom predominates the Upper Valley, has caused me more stress this summer than any finals period ever has. As a fan of the Oakland Raiders who firmly believes Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. fumbled the ball on Jan. 19, 2002, Brown was part of many a scandal from the minute he landed at Oakland’s training camp in his hot air balloon. I bring up the fact that I’m a Raiders fan because I am guilty of rationalizing Brown’s erratic behavior — to the amusement of my coworkers. Here’s a recap of what Brown’s history was from the straw that broke the camel’s back in Pittsburgh, along with my rationalizations at the time in italics:

After the Steelers beat the Chiefs in the 2017 playoffs, Brown broadcast coach Mike Tomlin’s postgame speech from the locker room on Facebook Live, where Tomlin spoke crassly about the Patriots, whom the Steelers would play next. Man, this guy’s a clown, didn’t his teammates tell him to keep a low social media profile?

Brown would sign an extension that offseason which made him the highest-paid receiver in football at the time. Talent doesn’t lie, he deserved that extension.

Leading up to the last game of the 2018 season, Brown got in an argument with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after the quarterback said, “get him off the field” after Brown ran an incorrect route at practice. Brown would storm off, skip the remaining practices of the week and not play against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers would miss the playoffs. You know I don’t think this is entirely Antonio’s fault. Ben kept calling his players out on his radio show and doesn’t seem like a very good leader.

That offseason, the Oakland Raiders traded for Antonio Brown, giving up a third- and a fifth-round pick. Oakland signed Brown to a contract worth $30 million guaranteed. Yo let’s go, we just got the best receiver in football for nothing! We’re set up great for the next few years. Gruden got his grinder.

Brown started missing training camp due to bizarre foot injuries caused by a cryotherapy mishap. He’ll be back out there. He’s just been training so hard on his own he got trench foot and he’ll be back when his feet heal. He’s the best receiver in the game he can train on his own time.

Brown was then banned from wearing his old helmet and threatened to retire from professional football if he couldn’t wear the helmet he wanted. He filed a grievance against the league twice, lost both times, and eventually came to a deal with Xenith to wear a custom-made helmet. He was never going to retire, he was set to make $30 million. It’s actually pretty smart getting that endorsement money by acting out like this.

Brown received a note from first-year general manager Mike Mayock that the Raiders reserved the right to fine him for missing practices due to his feet and helmet issues. Brown posted a letter of the fine on Instagram with the text “WHEN YOUR OWN TEAM WANT TO HATE BUT THERE’S NO STOPPING ME NOW DEVIL IS A LIE. EVERYONE GOT TO PAY THIS YEAR SO WE CLEAR.” He’s just using this as motivation, he’ll pay those fines. They’re only worth like $40,000.

The next day, Brown and Mayock got into an altercation which almost turned physical. Teammates had to hold Brown back and Brown allegedly called Mayock a “cracker.” Brown gave an emotional apology the next day in front of the team and coach Jon Gruden said Brown was expected to play Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. At least he apologized, if he’s serious about all this I’m fine with all the drama as long as he plays and helps the team win.

That night, Brown posted a video on YouTube with a private recorded conversation between him and Gruden, with Gruden saying Brown was “not a villain, just the misunderstood” person he’s ever met and telling Brown to “Please stop this s— and just play football.” What?

The Raiders fined Brown an additional $200,000 for conduct detrimental to the team, which voided the $30 million Brown was guaranteed in his contract. Brown asked for his release from the team on Instagram and hours later the team released him. You know it’s not that bad. We essentially paid a third- and a fifth-round pick for a scratch off ticket that didn’t win. Oakland approached the offseason expecting Tyrell Williams to be the incoming WR1 and since we don’t have to pay Brown any money, it’s no big deal.

Hours later, Brown signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots. So he did all that because he never wanted to be here in the first place? This dude’s a clown.

What struck me throughout this entire process was how supportive Gruden was for Brown. Throughout all the feet, helmet and outburst issues, Gruden was totally behind Brown and was probably just excited to see him play. It’s ironic that Gruden was so committed to supporting Brown that Brown had to hire social media consultants to advise him how to get released from the team faster. Now embroiled in another scandal with New England, I’ll leave with this: If Terrell Owens had social media, would today’s generation’s opinions of him change?