You’d probably believe any story about Antonio Brown right now, no matter how crazy it sounds.
The Oakland Raiders receiver has had more drama in the past year than just about any other football player has had in their lifetime. Going back to the Facebook Live controversy in the playoffs two years ago, when he broadcast live from the team’s locker room after a win, there have been plenty of signs that Brown is a handful. It all came to a head on Friday when there were reports about Brown throwing a fit over not being able to wear his old helmet anymore, due to NFL safety rules, and even threatening to sit out over the issue.
The Raiders had to know they were in for some crazy moments when they traded for Brown in March. Somewhere, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers are nodding knowingly.
Here’s a look at what has gone down with Brown over the last year:
November: Antonio Brown cited for driving 100 mph
Brown was cited for reckless driving after going more than 100 miles per hour in his Porsche through a Pittsburgh-area neighborhood. In February, he was found guilty after failing to show up for his trial.
There were plenty more headlines to come.
December: Brown goes AWOL, shows up expecting to play
In Week 17, Brown was inactive for a must-win game against the Cincinnati Bengals. It seems a knee injury was the reason. That wasn’t it.
Brown actually had a dust-up of some kind with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the Wednesday practice before the game. Then Brown skipped practices through the week, didn’t show up for a team meeting or walkthrough on Saturday, and still came to the stadium Sunday expecting to play according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Tomlin decided to deactivate him.
Brown wouldn’t play for the Steelers again.
January: Brown goes silent, ‘The Masked Singer,’ a blonde mustache
A few days after the season ended in controversy, Brown showed up as a contestant on “The Masked Singer.” He was voted off the show right away. He wore a hippo mask. The show was filmed before the NFL season, but the timing of the airing of the episode wasn’t ideal.
After the Week 17 fiasco, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said he couldn’t envision Brown being back with the team.
Meanwhile, Brown went on vacation, didn’t contact any of his Steelers teammates (coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t happy he couldn’t get a hold of Brown) and dyed his mustache blonde.
February: Trade request, shots at Ben, meeting with Steelers ownership
In February, Brown requested a trade. It seemed like that was going to happen had he requested it or not. Brown’s future with the Steelers, or lack thereof, seemed pretty clear when he held a Twitter Q&A and ripped Roethlisberger and Tomlin.
Brown also posted an Instagram video in which he expressed a desire to be known as “Mr. Big Chest,” and that’s not even close to the top 10 weirdest things from his 2019.
He also met with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, took a smiling picture, but said that he was ready to move on.
March: Brown nixes trade to Bills, goes to Raiders
Brown began the month by joining a website called Cameo, and for $500 he’d film a message for fans, celebrating an anniversary or whatever else.
It looked like the Buffalo Bills had landed Brown in a trade, but he basically blocked it by threatening to not report. He called a report he was almost traded to Buffalo “fake news.” The Bills might be thankful now.
A trade to the Raiders did happen. Oakland sent a third- and fifth-round pick to Pittsburgh, then gave Brown a raise. He has a three-year deal worth more than $50 million. That instantly was one of the biggest trades in NFL history, and it’s looking like it might become infamous.
April: Brown has Twitter feud with JuJu Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster was named Steelers MVP last season, and Brown didn’t seem to like it. That led to an exchange between the two ex-teammates on Twitter.
Brown took a random shot at Smith-Schuster for a fumble at the end of a loss to the Saints last season, and Smith-Schuster seemed confused why Brown would be ripping him on social media.
All I ever did was show that man love and respect from the moment I got to the league. I was genuinely happy for him too when he got traded to Oakland w/ a big contract, and now he takes shots at me on social media?— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) April 7, 2019
May: Ben says sorry, AB has curious response
Roethlisberger, in a television interview, apologized to Brown. He regretted criticizing Brown on a radio show after a loss to Denver.
It seemed like Roethlisberger was taking the high road. Brown did not. He tweeted this right after news broke that Roethlisberger had apologized in an interview:
Two face— AB (@AB84) May 20, 2019
Summer: A cryotherapy mishap and a retirement threat over a helmet
Brown arrived to training camp in a hot air balloon. That might be the most normal thing surrounding Brown in recent weeks.
Brown acknowledged in July he’d settled a lawsuit from a 2018 incident in which he was accused of throwing furniture off a balcony (Brown apologized on Twitter, then deleted the tweet). Right after that Brown was sued by a personal trainer for unpaid services.
And then it started to get really weird.
If you thought the story of Brown hurting his feet by not wearing proper footwear in a cryotherapy session was the weirdest one you’d hear about him this week, you were wrong.
Michael Silver of NFL Media posted a long thread on Twitter regarding Brown’s bizarre behavior, including Brown spending time during team meetings preoccupied with checking his bank account and liking pictures on Instagram. But the enduring part of that thread was Brown throwing a fit over the NFL making all players change out an old, unsafe model of helmet that he prefers. Brown even tried sneaking his old helmet into practices over the offseason. Brown has reportedly left the team’s training camp in Napa, Calif. over the issue.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Brown is even threatening sitting out and not playing if he can’t wear his old helmet. He reportedly had a two-hour meeting with league officials about the helmet issue.
For most athletes, even a fraction of the timeline above is enough drama for a full career. We still have about a month before the NFL regular season starts, and nobody knows what will happen next with Brown. And just think, we have most of the Raiders’ “Hard Knocks” season still to come.
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