Antonio Brown, the mercurial former Steelers, Raiders and Patriots receiver, appears to have retired from the NFL while taking a shot at New England owner Robert Kraft and his legal troubles.
Brown said in a series of tweets, most of which he eventually deleted: “Will not be playing the NFL anymore these owners can cancel deals do whatever they want at any time.” He added of his grievance through the players’ union, “We will see if the NFLPA hold them accountable.”
The four-time All-Pro receiver believes he is owed approximately $40 million despite getting cut twice this preseason. New England had been scheduled to pay him $9 million this week. Oakland, which acquired Brown in the offseason in a trade with Pittsburgh, agreed to pay him $29 million in guaranteed money.
Brown was released by the Raiders after repeated off-field antics. The Patriots then signed him, only to find out a woman filed a civil lawsuit in Florida accusing Brown of rape. He played in one game, then was released after the team learned he tried to intimidate a second woman who accused him of sexual misconduct.
In his closing tweet, Brown took aim at Kraft, who was charged with paying for sexual services in a Florida massage parlor earlier this year. Kraft pleaded not guilty and his case is pending.
“Different strokes different folks clearly,” tweeted Brown, who had 837 receptions over nine seasons with the Steelers. He never played for the Raiders, but in his one game with the Patriots he had four catches for 56 yards and one touchdown.
Brown also took a shot at former Steelers teammate Ben Roethlisberger, who was twice accused of sexual misconduct. Over a screenshot of an article about an investigation into allegations that Roethlisberger raped a woman, he wrote, “4 games for Big Ben crazy world I’m done with it” in reference to a suspension over the quarterback’s violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The Steelers cut ties with Brown after the 2018 season, which ended with the receiver going AWOL for two days. The Raiders sent third- and fifth-round draft picks to Pittsburgh to acquire Brown, who was given a three-year contract worth $50.1 million.
Brown’s talent and achievements on the field were undeniable.
“He’s the hardest-working man, I think, in football,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said at the time of the trade. “Hardest-working player I’ve ever seen practice. I’ve seen Jerry Rice, I’ve seen a lot of good ones, but I put Antonio Brown at the top. If there are any young wideouts out there, I’d go watch him practice. You figure out yourself why he’s such a good player.”
Brown was a focal point of the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” which follows a team through training camp. His confrontation with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, problems with frostbitten feet after a cryotherapy session and grievances over being required to use a newer model helmet were well-chronicled during the series.
Since deleting his tweets, Brown’s AB84 Twitter account now leads with a retweet of Master P speaking about Brown’s situation, followed by his “Will not be playing in the NFL” tweet.