Antonio Brown will play football again but for the Arena League’ Albany, New York, Empire, which he announced on social media on Tuesday, May 23.
Brown, who has part ownership in the franchise, will become the first player-owner in the league’s history. The four-time All-Pro previously played 12 seasons in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He hasn’t played football professionally since January 2, 2022, when he stormed off the field at MetLife Stadium as a member of the Bucs. Tampa Bay released him, and he couldn’t find a new team after that.
His career began with the Steelers where he amassed 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns in nine seasons. Pittsburgh traded him in 2019 to the then-Oakland Raiders.
Brown’s off-field issues led to his release, but the Patriots picked him up that season. He only played one game for the Patriots with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown in September 2019.
New England released him due to off-field issues shortly after that game. Things didn’t end for Brown in the NFL, however, as his connection with then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady aided a comeback in 2020.
Brady left the Patriots in 2020 as a free agent to sign with the Bucs, and he recruited Brown along with former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brown signed at midseason and helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl in the 2020 season.
Tampa Bay looked poised to repeat in 2021 with Brady, Gronkowski, and Brown amid all 22 starters back. No team had done it since the Brady-led Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
The Bucs came up short amid Brown’s late-regular season exit, injuries, and a failed comeback in the playoffs. Brown had been a key part of that two-year run in Tampa with 87 catches for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games played.
Empire a Homecoming for Antonio Brown
Brown retired from the NFL this year, and he took up an ownership stake in the Empire. His father, Eddie Brown, was an Arena League star in Albany during the previous edition of the league in the 2000s.
“I grew up here, as a little kid watching my dad be successful and watching this building erupt,” Antonio Brown said in an introductory press conference.
“For me, to be in a family-oriented city like Albany, being here with my dad and my kids and just giving the community and players the opportunity to live out their dreams,” Brown said. “So for me, it was easy. I’m just excited to be here and excited to bring [the] Albany Empire a three-peat and see the community and these players live out their dreams.”
Antonio Brown Recruiting Cam Newton to Join the Empire
Brown wants a former Patriots quarterback to join him in Albany, but it’s not Brady.
The seven-time Pro Bowler told WNYT’s Rodger Wyland that “he has been in contact with” Cam Newton. The former Patriots and Carolina Panthers quarterback didn’t play in the NFL during the 2022 season.
Newton once had a stellar career with the Panthers where he won MVP in 2015. His play declined at the end of the decade, and he didn’t pan out in New England for the 2020 season before the Patriots cut him in 2021 and made Mac Jones the starter.