Antonio Clown

Ethan Coyle ‘20

Antonio Brown began his football career as an All American at Central Michigan University in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 he was drafted in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Very quickly Brown emerged as a superstar at the wide receiver position, a rare feat for a sixth round pick. In his second season with the Steelers, Brown was selected for his first Pro Bowl as a punt returner. In his third season, he became the first player in NFL history to have at least five receptions and fifty yards in every game of the season. In nine seasons with the Steelers, Antonio Brown was selected to seven Pro Bowls, although his relations with the team and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger degraded over time partially leading to his eventual trade to the Oakland Raiders.


Three teams and several sexual assault allegations later, seven-time NFL Pro Bowler Antonio Brown finds himself reenrolled at Central Michigan University, retired from professional football entirely. It has been a tumultuous year for Antonio Brown, the former Pittsburgh Steeler who, since 2010, has more receptions and receiving yards than any other player in the National Football League. 


In March of 2019, The Pittsburgh Steelers traded Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders and he signed a three-year, $30 million contract after nine seasons in Pittsburgh.  This makes Brown the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. After causing online drama with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in Pittsburgh, Brown clearly needed a fresh slate, yet his troubles followed him to Oakland. 


Brown’s career with the Raiders began with frostbite in July due to him not wearing the proper protective footwear during cryotherapy, a method of healing which involves using cold temperatures to repair muscle tissues. 


A few weeks later, while seeking treatment for his feet, Brown threatened to retire if the NFL did not allow him to wear his ten-year-old helmet, which had been recently banned after not meeting modern safety standards. However, players that wear these unsafe helmets had been notified a year earlier and given the entire 2018 season as a grace period before enacting the ban, giving Brown ample time to determine a replacement. Instead, Brown filed a grievance to the league to allow him to wear his old helmet and lost, leading him to skip practice and later receive a fine of $40,000 by the Raiders’ general manager, Mike Mayock. Instead of choosing a new helmet, Brown persisted and filed a second grievance to the league, only to lose a second time. 


On September 4th, Brown reportedly practiced half-heartedly and got into a verbal altercation with Mayock. The next day, reporters revealed that the Raiders would be suspending Antonio Brown for conduct detrimental to the team. 


One day later, Brown returned to the practice facility and issued an “emotional apology” to the team. 


On September 7th, three days after his altercation with Mayock, the raiders organization fined Brown $215,000 and voided his guaranteed $29.125 million dollars. Later that day, Antonio Brown posted to Instagram urging the Raiders to release him, and is released only hours later. This act concluded his saga with the Oakland Raiders, with Antonio Brown never playing a single game with the team.


One hour after his release from the Raiders is officialized, the reigning Superbowl Champions, the New England Patriots, signed free agent Antonio Brown to a one year deal. 


Three days later on September 10th, news broke that Antonio Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, filed a suit against Brown for three instances of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018. 


On September 15th, Brown played his only game of the 2019-2020 season with the Patriots, boasting a strong performance. 


The very next day, Sports Illustrated Magazine published another sexual assault allegation against Brown by an unnamed artist who did work on his Pennsylvania home in 2017. 


On September 19th, Brown allegedly sent threatening text messages to the unnamed woman and the Patriots instructed Brown to end contact with her. 


On September 20th, the Patriots released Antonio Brown. Thus, after less than two weeks as a New England Patriot, Antonio Brown was a free agent yet again.


On September 22nd, Antonio Brown announced his retirement from the National Football League and criticized Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a series of now-deleted tweets. 


The next day, Brown announced on Twitter that he has reenrolled at Central Michigan University, back where his football career initially took off. 


Brown’s criticisms on Twitter of Patriots owner Robert Kraft left sports fans questioning if team owners have too much consolidated power, after Brown lost nearly $40 million dollars of guaranteed pay in two months. After his troublesome preseason, Brown resolved to call on the NFL’s players association to hold team owners accountable for “canceling deals,” and filed grievances against both the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots. 


Antonio Brown’s actions during 2019 have been heavily criticized on social media by the likes of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle, and sports personality Stephen A. Smith who called Brown an “absolute embarrassment” on an ESPN TV show. Antonio Brown’s future is unclear at best, and football lovers nationwide will hold their breath to see if the former superstar ever plays football again.