Over a year after Antonio Brown made an abrupt exit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the star wide receiver announced his latest football plans this week.
Brown, 34, officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday, March 1, via ML Football. He also announced his part ownership in the National Arena League team Albany Empire on Thursday, March 2.
For Brown, it’s a homecoming of sorts since his father, Eddie, played for the Empire’s predecessor, the Albany Firebirds of the Arena Football League. The elder Brown, a star wide receiver known as “Touchdown” Eddie Brown won the two MVPs and helped the team win one Arena Bowl. Brown’s father posted 303 touchdowns from 1994 to 2000.
The Albany Firebirds left New York for Indiana in 2000 and then dissolved in 2004. The Arena League also folded a second time in 2019, but the National Arena League emerged in 2016 and ultimately added an Albany team in 2021. The Empire has been wildly successful, winning the past two National Arena League titles.
“I grew up here, as a little kid watching my dad be successful and watching this building erupt,” Antonio Brown said during Thursday’s press conference.
Brown attended the second grade in Albany, but he also grew up in Miami and played high school football at Miami Norland. He then played a season at North Carolina Tech Prep followed by Central Michigan before his 12-year NFL career. His pro career concluded with two seasons in Tampa Bay, including a Super Bowl win in the 2020 season. He also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.
Brown: ‘For Me, it Was Easy’
Brown teased the announcement the night before on social media.
“Albany, New York. I’m here!” Brown said in a video. “It’s a big announcement in the morning. Stay tuned.”
On Thursday, Brown expressed the meaning of the Albany community and his hopes for the Empire as part owner.
“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.”
Brown’s Career With Bucs Ended in New York
Brown notably played his final game in New York during the 2021 season when he exited a game between the Jets and the Bucs in the third quarter. The Bucs released him the following week amid conflict with the team, and he didn’t sign with another team again.
Then-Bucs quarterback Tom Brady recruited Brown to Tampa in 2020 after their short time together in New England. Brown played eight games for the Bucs in 2020, and he caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He caught two touchdowns in the playoffs, including the Super Bowl.
His second season with the Bucs ended up marred by injuries, and he only played seven games and finished with 42 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns. Tampa Bay missed his on-field prowess in 2022 as the Bucs offense sputtered to 18.4 points per game despite Brady under center for a third season.
Brown finished his NFL career with an impressive array of achievements and stats — including four first team All-Pro honors and seven Pro Bowl appearances. He caught 928 passes for 12,291 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career.