Two days from now marks 6 months since the Oakland Raiders agreed to trade for four-time first team All Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown. At the time, many believed the Raiders won the trade, as they only gave up a third round pick and a fifth round pick in the 2019 NFL draft. However, this led to a series of such unfortunate events that even Lemony Snicket himself could not have thought of them. Now the Raiders have decided to move on from Brown, voiding his guaranteed $29.125 million signing bonus and releasing him into free agency. Less than six hours later, Brown signed to a one year, $15 million deal with the New England Patriots, with a $9 million signing bonus. Here is a look at what went wrong between Brown and the Raiders, and what might be next now that Brown already found a new team.
July 26: Brown arrives to training camp in a hot air balloon
The start of training camp for NFL teams signifies that the off-season has ended and the time has come to get back to work and get serious about the season. However, Brown, known for his unique ways of arriving to camp in the past, went above and beyond for his big entrance this year. Since Napa Valley, known for their hot air balloon rides and 60 miles north of Oakland, Brown decided the best way to mark the beginning of an era in Oakland would be to hitch a ride on a hot air balloon for his first (and now last) training camp with the Raiders. While it was a memorable beginning for Brown’s time with the Raiders, what came to follow will stay in the memories of football fans for years to come.
August 7: Reports emerge that Brown has severe frostbite on his feet
Before training camp began, Brown went to France and received cryotherapy treatment; when receiving cryotherapy, athletes step into a chamber and expose themselves to extremely cold air for two to four minutes. However, Brown wore the wrong footwear when receiving his treatment, resulting in extreme frostbite on his feet. While Brown initially participated in the Raiders’ camp, Brown stopped practicing after July 30 and cited treating his feet for frostbite as his reason for not practicing. Brown would return on August 13, but another situation involving Brown had already risen to the attention of fans.
August 18: Brown loses grievance against NFL due to new helmet, threatens to retire
Brown has worn the Schutt AiR Advantage helmet his entire career, and cited his favor for the helmet due to being able to see the field better. However, the helmet became discontinued due to advancements in helmet technology, and the NFL no longer allows players to wear them in games. This made Brown furious, leading to him file a grievance against the NFL in an attempt for them to let him wear the helmet again. Additionally, Brown told Raiders officials that if he could not wear his old helmet, he would walk away from the NFL. Brown’s grievance was struck down, and while Brown initially skipped Raiders practice after his grievance was denied, he returned after one missed practice. Brown would be fined $40,000 for missing practice, setting into motion an increasingly tense relationship with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock.
August 25: Brown loses second grievance against the NFL
After Brown’s first grievance was rejected, he filed a second grievance, claiming that he needed a one year grace period to find a new helmet and adjust without his old one. However, the NFL already instituted a grace period in 2018 for players who used helmets that were no longer allowed by the league (Brown’s helmet was on the list of helmets no longer allowed). After the 2018 season, players who used these helmets, such as Brown and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, had to find new helmets for use in the 2019 season. Brown eventually settled for using the Xenith Shadow helmet.
September 4: Brown posts a letter on Instagram from Mayock detailing his fines from the past off-season
No stranger to posting controversial things on social media, Brown live streamed Steelers coach Mike Tomlin going on a rant about the New England Patriots, their opponent in that year’s AFC Championship. He did so, despite his teammates warnings to keep a low profile in social media. This time, Brown posted a letter from Mayock in which he went into detail about Brown’s fines this offseason; Brown had received fines due to multiple unexcused absences from the team and missed practices. This appeared to be the breaking point in Brown’s relationship with Mayock, and led to the next significant event in Brown’s tumultuous time with the Raiders.
September 5: Reports emerge that Raiders plan to suspend Brown following confrontation with Mayock
One day after Brown posted the letter from Mayock, reports came out that Brown stormed into Mayock’s office and engaged in a heated altercation with him. It remains unclear what Brown said, but the cause of the altercation altercation appeared to have something to do with the fines Brown received. Brown punted a football after exiting Mayock’s office and told Mayock to “fine me for that.” Brown allegedly also threatened to hit Mayock and called him a cracker; Brown denied the latter. The following day, Brown issued an emotional apology to his teammates for his actions, but appeared to contradict his feelings of regret with an Instagram post less than a day later.
September 7: Brown demands release from the Raiders on Instagram; his request is granted
Despite Brown’s apology, the Raiders voided his $29.125 million signing bonus, which infuriated Brown. Following this, Brown posted on his Instagram, “I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines. Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years… Release me @Raiders.” Within hours of Brown’s post, the Raiders announced that they had released him, and Brown became a free agent.
September 7: Brown agrees to 1 year deal with the New England Patriots
Despite rumors that no teams were interested in Brown and that Brown may face retirement, the Patriots agreed to a deal with Brown nearly five hours after his release from the Raiders. Although Brown has a bold personality and may be a risk to take on, his talent had overridden this and the Patriots could not turn him away. After winning last year’s Super Bowl, the Patriots lost star tight end Rob Gronkowski to retirement. With Gronkowski gone, Brown has an opportunity to play for a championship contender while remaining the number one option and receiving guaranteed money.
In an offseason filled with several notable headlines—including Odell Beckham Jr.’s trade to the Browns and Jadeveon Clowney’s trade to the Seahawks—the drama between Brown and the Raiders has captured the attention of fans across the country. While Brown’s time with the Raiders has come to an end, it seems unlikely that his time in the news will cease. There will likely be plenty of more stories involving Brown to come.