There isn’t much about the short-lived Antonio Brown-Oakland Raiders marriage that isn’t strange and in some ways unprecedented in the NFL.
And even now that Brown forced his divorce from Oakland, there’s information trickling out that continue to show how strange it all was.
Producer: Jon Gruden gave permission
On Friday night — which now seems like a month ago, not just four days ago — Brown posted a sharply produced two-minute video to YouTube that featured in part a phone conversation between himself and Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden.
“AB,” Gruden begins, “what the hell is going on, man?”
Brown replies, “Just a villain all over the news, man.”
Gruden says Brown isn’t a villain, just “the most misunderstood [expletive] human being in my entire life that I’ve ever met” and tells him that he brought him to Oakland because Brown is his “favorite guy” and works hard.
By the end, Gruden says, “Please stop this [expletive] and just play football.”
Alejandro Narciso, who produced the video, was on ESPN Radio’s “Dan LeBatard Show” on Monday, and explained that he had been following Brown around with a camera crew, “documenting everything,” with the idea of using it in the future in a longer-form piece.
Brown was on the phone with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, when Gruden called. But Narciso didn’t want Brown to tip Gruden off that the call was being recorded.
One problem: California is a two-party consent state, meaning that it’s illegal to record private conversations and phone calls unless all parties involved know it’s being recorded, something Brown’s marketing manager reminded Narciso of.
Narciso considered taking the Gruden portion out, but then suggested that Brown send the video to Gruden instead to get an idea what he thought of it.
‘I loved it. Love it!’
As Narciso explained, he was prepared for Gruden to reply, “Listen, AB, I love you, man, I can’t be having you post our conversations. Which is the response I think anyone would think was going to happen,” Narciso said.
“And then he responds like 15 minutes later, three texts,” Narciso recalled. “He goes, ‘Wow. I loved it. Love it!’ And then we were like, alright. There’s our consent.”
Did Gruden know what would come next?
But what Gruden likely didn’t know was how Brown would use the video.
He posted it to Instagram and YouTube with the (non-sensical) explainer, “With all these false narratives antagonizing me, it’s time for me to control my own narrative. Show the world I’m not the bad guy. Show the world you can free yourself from the lies and become your own person. I am not just AB the football player, I am Antonio Brown, the person, who paved a way for himself to be in charge of his own life. Watch for yourself.”
He ended it, “Free me!”
By Saturday morning, Brown posted to social media again, this time with a more explicit, “Release me @Raiders”.
Not long after, Oakland gave him his wish.
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