Antonio Brown told the Oakland Raiders to release him. Just a few hours later, he got his wish.
The Raiders released the mercurial All-Pro wide receiver, the conclusion of an unprecedented and stunning series of events this summer that finally came to a head this week.
There were reports earlier in the week that he had threatened to punch general manager Mike Mayock, called him a “cracker” and contemptuously punted a football away, daring Mayock to fine him. Brown later apologized to the team, which appeared to finally put the issues behind him.
But then Brown posted a video to YouTube Friday night that included snatches of a phone conversation with head coach Jon Gruden that Brown apparently taped. He followed up Saturday morning with a message on Instagram that concluded with, “Release me @raiders.”
After the 2018 season, Brown was fed up with the Pittsburgh Steelers and requested a trade. The Steelers dealt Brown to Oakland in March for third- and fifth-round draft picks. Brown lasted almost six months with the Raiders and did not play in a game for the team.
Before Brown’s request for a release, the Raiders informed him that due to his fines for conduct detrimental to the team, he would not be eligible for termination pay if released. They also voided $29 million in guaranteed money. The sports contract-tracking website Spotrac reported that the Raiders have not paid Brown a dime, because even his signing bonus was contingent on reporting to a certain percentage of the team’s offseason program.
Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent, told NFL Network Saturday that Brown still wants to play football and will try to sign with another team soon.
“It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out with the Raiders, but obviously, he’s going to get a new opportunity, a new beginning, and I’m always optimistic it’s going to work out,” Rosenhaus said, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Earlier this summer, Brown’s football future seemed to be in jeopardy when he reportedly threatened to retire if he could not continue wearing the same helmet model he’d worn throughout his career, one that was no longer approved by the NFL for safety reasons. He filed two grievances against the league and lost both.
He also got frostbite on his feet for wearing improper footwear in a cryotherapy chamber.
The Raiders open their 2019 season Monday against the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football,” the Antonio Brown era over before it truly began.