The more details on what Antonio Brown did to the Raiders more it stinks like collusion. The latest comes from Chris Mortensen who reports that Antonio Brown began actively trying to force his way out of Oakland last week by seeking the advice of a social media consultant.
This is what led to his first act of sedition which was to post the picture of his fine letter on Instagram in which he said “When your own team want to hate” and ending with “Everyone got to pay this year SO WE CLEAR.”
Ironically that message wasn’t clear at all. But it is becoming more so by the day.
By “everyone” he was including the Raiders, and perhaps meant them specifically. That same day, he confronted Mike Mayock and threatened to hit his GM in the face, called him a cracker, and had to be pulled away by teammates before ultimately punting the ball and saying “fine me for that!”
He would later apologize to his teammates and even make a statement to the media as a form of apology. And ultimately, he would escape being suspended as a result, Gruden said Brown would play in the Monday night opener and for a moment, some believed that was the end of it. As we have come to expect, that “ending” lasted a few hours.
That night AB posted a video which featured a recorded conversation he had with Jon Gruden that his head coach was clearly not aware he was being recorded — that’s against state law, by the way. It was obvious Brown was still pulling out all the stops to get out of Oakland. Unfortunately, when Gruden was asked, he was said to be amused by it and found it “awesome.” Back to the drawing board for AB.
The Raiders still fined him for conduct detrimental, but it was a quarter of what they could have fined him. The key part though was it voided the guaranteed money in his contract. Giving AB the last piece he needed.
The next morning he took back to social media, furious about his guaranteed money being taken away and demanded his release. The Raiders didn’t have to give in to his demand, but they relented if only to end the whole ordeal and remove the cancer. Brown’s disgusting display of joy at learning he had been released by the Raiders seemed like it was a long time coming. And it seemed a lot like he knew he had something lined up.
Here’s Antonio Brown finding out the Raiders released him: pic.twitter.com/nP4AZUh84s— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2019
What was seen as the usual imbalanced and erratic actions looks more calculated with each detail that surfaces.
Just five hours after his release from the Raiders, he was signed to the Patriots on a one-year deal to make the same $15 million this season he was scheduled to make with the Raiders but with $9 million guaranteed.
It turns out the Patriots had tried to trade for Brown last March, but the Steelers didn’t want to trade him to a rival. So, instead the Raiders stepped in and gave them a 3rd and 5th round pick.
Patriots tried to trade for Antonio Brown in March, but Steelers did not want to trade him to a rival. So instead of having to give up a pick or picks for him in March, Patriots get Brown without having to compensate another team in September.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 8, 2019
Could it be Brown used the Raiders in order to get his ultimate goal of joining the Patriots? That this was his plan all along?
Well, we know now that his efforts to get out of Oakland went back at least a week before he literally asked to be released.
Prior to that, he wasn’t exactly a model citizen. He missed all but one series of training camp with a weird frostbite injury to his feet. Even though in that series in which he participated, he didn’t look like he was affected by the injury at all.
That’s when we first heard Antonio Brown use the phrase “The Big Chicken Plan.” That was on July 30 and much like his infamous “Mr Big Chest” video, no one really knew what that meant. And like that, poof, he was gone. Just one series of one-on-ones and his camp was done.
Then there was the news that he was drawing out a grievance with the league about wanting to wear his old helmet well after all other NFL players had simply changed to an approved helmet. And the rumblings were that his absence from camp was no longer about his foot injury at all. Reports said he was threatening to retire if he couldn’t wear his old helmet. And then, as if it were some crazy coincidence, the moment the helmet grievance was to be settled, he was back. Then when his grievance was shot down, he was gone again. This time it was not excused and Mike Mayock gave him an ultimatum to be “all in or all out.” The first cracks were starting to show. And it only took AB skipping the entire training camp under mysterious pretenses with a near complete lack of communication with the team.
When it was reported initially that Brown was not talking to the Raiders initially, Gruden downplayed it and then Drew Rosenhaus denied it (as if anything he says is to be taken seriously.) But then Gruden said recently that the team never knew from day to day whether Antonio Brown would be at practice. And he still put up with it. Though Brown probably didn’t want him to put up with it. AB was seemingly playing chicken with his head coach the Raiders organization. A big chicken plan, if you will.
This whole thing would have seemed pretty ludicrous at that time. But how ludicrous does it sound now?
Brown eventually chose a helmet. And, of course, he made a spectacle of it. The company Xenith announced Brown had chosen a helmet and Brown had a photo shoot with the helmet and everything. It was silver. And that’s it. No Raiders shield. No black stripe in the center. Just silver. Any other NFL team you can think of that has a silver helmet? Give it a sec, it’ll come to you.
The chosen helmet announcement was made on September 4. The same day Brown posted the photo of his fines and went after Mayock in practice which we now know was his first aggressive actions to force his release. Brown wasn’t at practice on the 5th and when he showed up on the 6th, he was still wearing his temporary Schutt XP Air helmet. On the 7th he demanded his release, the Raiders granted it, and within five hours, he was a Patriot.
In the end, Antonio Brown got out of Pittsburgh and onto the Super Bowl champions, the Steelers got a couple draft picks out of it, the Patriots got the receiver they wanted all along, and all the Raiders got was a huge headache and the feeling they had just been used.
Try to enjoy your first Sunday of the 2019 NFL season. And maybe skip the Sunday night game.