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Antonio Brown never played a game for the Oakland Raiders, yet his time there will be remembered for a long time.
On Saturday morning, after a crazy offseason, the Raiders released Brown six months after a high-profile trade to acquire him.
The Raiders have released WR Antonio Brown from the team today.
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) September 7, 2019
Less than 24 hours before that tweet, the Raiders said Brown would be playing Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, even after a threat that they were planning to suspend him.
It’s safe to say that Brown’s time with the Raiders will go down as one of the zaniest stories in sports history.
Antonio Brown asked for his release, got it
Let’s start the Brown story back before Week 17 of last season. That’s when it really started to get crazy.
Brown had an argument with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at a Wednesday practice, skipped meetings and practices, then showed up Sunday ready to play in a must-win game. The Steelers deactivated him, and that basically set in motion the end of his Pittsburgh career.
Brown, after basically nixing a trade to Buffalo by threatening to not report to the Bills, was sent to the Raiders for a third- and fifth-round pick. He got a raise. Everyone seemed happy.
It wouldn’t take long to unravel. There were early warning signs, like continued public feuds with former Steelers teammates Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Then at the start of training camp, everything went off the rails.
To sum up the madness, Brown (long breath) burned his feet in a cryotherapy mishap, fought the NFL over use of an outdated helmet, left the team while he threatened to sit out over the helmet issue, lost a grievance with the NFL over the helmet, was told his preferred replacement helmet wasn’t safe, complained about the NFL again, finally settled on a new helmet and reported, skipped enough meetings and practices to get fined more than $50,000, posted the fine letter to social media, got in a heated argument with GM Mike Mayock during practice, apologized after the Raiders threatened suspension, was told he could play Week 1, posted a video of a phone call with Jon Gruden to YouTube, was fined for the Mayock incident, was told his guaranteed money was voided, vowed to not play for the Raiders again, asked for his release, and was released on Saturday morning.
Everything in that last paragraph happened in a little more than a month.
What happens next for Brown?
Gruden said the team tried everything it could.
#Raiders coach Jon Gruden says Antonio Brown “is a great guy. He’s misunderstood.” He has said “we have exhausted everything.” And that’s that.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 7, 2019
Gruden: “At least I got to meet Antonio. I never got to meet Khalil.”
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 7, 2019
Brown is immediately free to sign with another team, and that’s quite interesting.
Every team in the NFL had a shot to trade for Brown back in March, and nobody gave more than the third- and fifth-round picks the Raiders were willing to give up. Go back and read that long paragraph ... do you think NFL teams are more willing to sign him now?
It’s hard to figure out what’s next for Brown. He’s obviously one of the most talented receivers in NFL history, but by now the baggage is obvious. People have speculated the Patriots will grab him, but it’s hard to imagine Bill Belichick putting up with that circus. He wants players who are committed to football.
Brown is out in Oakland, and the Raiders presumably feel comfortable they have grounds to void all of his guaranteed money and won’t be on the hook for anything financially from the Brown trade and contract.
And with all that happened during Brown’s time with Oakland, one significant thing never happened: Brown never played one snap for the Raiders, even in the preseason.
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