It’s been months since the Oakland Raiders parted ways with Antonio Brown, but the wide receiver’s ability to constantly be in the news cycle has resulted in his tenure with the team remaining a topic of discussion. The drama surrounding Brown didn’t start when he came to the Raiders, but it’s surprising how much was kept under wraps until he left Pittsburgh.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin must be a wizard at keeping secrets because he was able to keep any drama involving the wide receiver from the public to a minimum for almost nine years. In a new story by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the reporter reveals just how Tomlin was able to do it:
In his first three years in the league, as Brown broke out as a rising NFL superstar, the Steelers slowly but surely learned how to deal with the mercurial talent. As a rookie, he missed game time for being late to practices. Eventually, though, Tomlin made concessions. The Steelers coach knew the best way — perhaps the only way — to handle Brown, and it was straight from Volero’s playbook: limit confrontations, get him to the field, let him be dominant.
Rarely does a player get the kind of freedom that reportedly Brown did and despite the Steelers bending over backward to keep the superstar happy, things eventually soured. Pittsburgh finally gave up after the 2018 season and shipped Brown to Oakland.
Steelers Didn’t Think Brown Would Last in Oakland
Fowler’s story is full of interesting tidbits about how Brown got to where he is. The most interesting thing is that it seems like the wide receiver has always been outspoken and very open with his feelings.
When Brown was traded to the Raiders, it seemed like things were going smoothly early on. The team needed a wide receiver badly and head coach Jon Gruden was ready to make him the star and focal point of the offense. He only cost the team third and fifth-round draft picks and he already had an amicable relationship with quarterback Derek Carr. However, the Steelers knew it wasn’t going to last, according to Fowler:
WITH DEBTS AND legal issues piling up, Brown’s three-year, $54 million deal with the Raiders ($30 million of it guaranteed) could have eased at least the financial hole in which he found himself. But when Brown signed that deal in March, some Steelers privately debated how long Brown would last without the generous concessions Tomlin made for the receiver.
The consensus was that Brown wouldn’t make it to Week 1 — and that turned out to be right.
Brown was very close to making to it Week 1 with the Raiders, but he forced his way out just days before the opener. Gruden was willing to make whatever concessions necessary to get Brown on the field, but general manager Mike Mayock was not. Mayock fined Brown on two separate occasions and the second time was the final straw that led to his release.
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Antonio Brown May Never Play in the NFL Again
Brown got released by the Raiders, but it seemed like he got what he always wanted in the end and that was to play for the New England Patriots. Fowler explained just how happy the wide receiver was:
The very same day of his release, Brown agreed to sign with the Patriots and was on “cloud 50” to be headed to Foxborough, Eddie [Brown] recalls. Brown brimmed with excitement any time he discussed the future there.
That marriage lasted just one game. Brown found himself in a new legal battle and the Patriots eventually opted to part ways with the talented wideout. Months have gone by and he hasn’t sniffed an NFL roster. His talent will likely win out eventually and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team take a chance on him. However, there’s almost no way he’ll make the same kind of money he had on recent contracts with the Steelers and Raiders, at least not in the immediate future.