Antonio Brown, a former top wide receiver for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, apologized to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a Feb. 12 Instagram post, in hopes of returning to the NFL.
“I never realized how good I had it, got caught up in my emotion with everyone coming after me. I really apologize for my actions sincerely man! It’s never been another connection like what we done in the past decade,” he wrote to his former teammate. Although Brown’s NFL future is now uncertain after a series of outbursts and sexual assault allegations, he hopes to return to playing football at a high level.
However, Brown on Feb. 25, took a shot at his former agent Drew Rosenhaus, tweeting “Rosenhaus sports one of the biggest scams going on in south Florida right now.” His inconsistent behavior is tarnishing his legacy and it has ruined any chance of a reunion with the Steelers, according to general manager Kevin Colbert.
“We have moved on from Antonio Brown, and Coach [Mike] Tomlin addressed that the last time he spoke with the media that we’re worried about Antonio Brown the person,” said Colbert during the NFL scouting combine. “He will always be a Steeler in that regard, but in that regard only.”
Brown was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round, the 195th overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft. After seven Pro Bowl and five All-Pro selections, many regarded him as the best wide receiver in the league.
Brown’s publicized NFL turbulence started during the 2018-19 season. He refused to play in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals and was reportedly tired of being blamed for the Steelers’ problems by Roethlisberger. After tweeting farewell to the team and its fans, Brown requested a trade.
The Steelers traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders this past off-season in exchange for their 2019 third and fifth round draft picks. Brown was then forced to switch from his 10-year-old Schutt Air Advantage helmet because the league deemed it too old. Upset by the ban, he threatened to retire and filed multiple grievances against the NFL to no avail.
Brown attended a cryotherapy treatment session in France, only to return with frostbite due to a lack of proper footwear. Cryotherapy is a pain treatment that uses liquid nitrogen. The receiver arrived at the Raiders’ training camp flamboyantly, in a hot air balloon. Everything deflated shortly afterwards. Brown didn’t attend all of training camp and was fined $40,000 by Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock for an unexcused absence. He later publicized his fine on Instagram and, a few days later, posted a private phone call from head coach Jon Gruden on YouTube. The Raiders fined Brown again, this time $215,000, for conduct detrimental to the team and voided the receiver’s guaranteed $29.125 million. This was the breaking point of Brown’s relationship with the Raiders. He asked for his release on Instagram and, with the help of social media consultants, was released on Sept. 7.
Later that same day, Brown signed a one-year deal with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots worth up to $15 million, with a $9 million signing bonus, $1 million guaranteed and $5 million in incentives. The signing bonus was to be paid in two installments: $5 million on Sept. 23 and $4 million on Jan. 15.
On Sept. 10, Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer, filed a civil suit against the receiver, accusing him of three separate incidents of sexual assault. Following the lawsuit, helmet manufacturer Xenith ended its relationship with Brown. That Sunday, the volatile star played against the Miami Dolphins, tallying four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. This proved to be his first and last game for the Patriots. A second woman then came forward with sexual assault allegations.
Nike terminated its contract with Brown on Sept. 19, refusing to give specifics, just saying, “Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete.” The Patriots released him the next day, voiding his $9 million signing bonus. In response, Brown went on a massive Twitter rant, saying he wouldn’t play in the NFL ever again and taking shots at Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “[I] will not be playing in the NFL anymore,” Brown tweeted. “These owners can cancel deals, do whatever they want at anytime [sic].”
Brown started taking online courses at Central Michigan University, his alma mater, and is still confident in his athletic abilities. Brown, instead of being considered one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, is going to take online college courses soon. However, Brown believes he can still play in the NFL at a high level. “I’m still the best why stop now,” he tweeted on September 26.“The game need[s] me I’m like test answers.”
On November 7, Brown embarked on another rant on Twitter, this time accusing the NFL of racism. “Imagine conforming to a system giving it a 100 percent to see them treat me like this unfairly,” Brown tweeted. “Making money off my sweat and blood. Fuck the @nfl. I’ll never play in that shit treat black people the worse! Clear my name and go fuck your self.”
A few months later, on Jan. 13, the Hollywood Police Athletic League cut ties with Brown, after he screamed profanities at officers following a dispute with his ex-girlfriend and mother of his three children, Chelsie Kyriss. This was after a previous incident with Kyriss back in December, as police were helping her move her belongings out.
As a result, Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s longtime agent, terminated his contract on Jan. 16, saying he wanted to work with Brown, but not until he received help. Specifically, Rosenhaus agreed to “rescind the termination if Brown secures appropriate counseling within the next five days.” This proved unsuccessful as Brown didn’t seek help.
The next week, the police issued an arrest warrant in Miami for Brown as he and his trainer, Glen Holt, were accused of battery against a truck driver. Holt was arrested and charged with burglary. Brown ultimately turned himself in to police and was subsequently released on $110,000 bond. He was ordered to surrender his passport and stay away from social media and weapons.
Brown was later interviewed on ESPN, and he offered an apology to the NFL. “I think I owe the whole NFL an apology for my past behavior,” Brown said. “As of late, I’ve just been the cancer of the NFL.”
The NFL is still investigating the sexual assault claims, as well as disturbing texts Brown sent to one of the alleged victims — until next season, Brown won’t be playing football. His attorney, Camille Blanton, filed a motion to withdraw from the case on Feb. 7 for unknown reasons. For now, Brown is trying to make his way back into the NFL, and will be attending the NFL Scouting Combine that starts in late February to gauge whether there are any teams interested in signing him.