The troubled but talented wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has been cut by two teams in less than one month, announced on his Twitter account Sunday morning that he would not play in the NFL anymore, citing alleged mistreatment and broken contracts from NFL owners.
Throughout the first nine years of his career — all with the Pittsburgh Steelers — Brown was one of the most prolific pass catchers in the NFL. Brown had over seven seasons with 1000+ yards receiving during that time frame. He led the league in receptions twice, and in receiving yards twice, and was selected to eight pro bowls.
However, during the 2018 season, an acrimonious split began to develop between Brown and the Steelers. Brown began to publicly snipe at Steelers leadership as well as longtime Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. After the season, Brown publicly demanded a trade, and the Steelers acquiesced to the demand, trading him to the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders then signed him to a lucrative, multiple-year deal in the offseason in order to display their commitment to Brown.
However, the erratic behavior displayed by Brown at the end of the 2018 season continued to worsen. First, Brown injured his feet by allegedly failing to wear proper protective footwear during a cryotherapy session, causing him to miss a substantial portion of the team's preseason workouts.
Then, according to multiple team sources, Brown began displaying increasingly erratic behavior over the NFL's demands that he switch helmets to a safer model, believing that the new models of helmets interfered with his peripheral vision. Brown reportedly threatened to quit playing in the NFL over the issue, and went to bizarre lengths to attempt to keep his own helmet, including allegedly painting one of his old Steelers helmets to look like a Raiders helmet and attempting to pass it off as one of the new models.
At one point, Brown allegedly complained that prominent white players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were not being required to use new helmets. Raiders officials reportedly then obtained pictures of Brady and Rodgers practicing in the new, required helmets and showed them to Brown to attempt to mollify him. Still, Brown reportedly continued to be absent and/or tardy or non compliant in team activities because of the helmet issue.
The increasing tension over the helmet issue and other issues led Raiders general manager Mike Mayock to publicly declare that it was time for Brown to either demonstrate his commitment to the team or leave, and also that Brown was being fined for unexcused absences from team activities. This announcement, along with the fines, caused Brown to confront Mayock in practice, at which time he allegedly unloaded a profanity-laced tirade at Mayock, during which he called Mayock a "cracker."
The Raiders then announced that due to the multiple fines, Brown was subject to losing substantial portions of the guaranteed money under his contract, which led Brown to announce that he would never play for the Raiders. The team accordingly released him before he ever played a game in uniform. Brown was promptly scooped up by the New England Patriots, but almost immediately, controversy began to swirl again.
This time, the controversy concerned multiple women who accused Brown of committing sexual assault against them. According to a Sports Illustrated report, Brown was also under investigation for having sent "intimidating" text messages to one of his accusers, which could amount to witness intimidation.
As the sexual assault controversy mounted, the Patriots announced on Friday that they were also parting ways with Brown after only one game.
In addition to his tweet announcing his plans to quit playing in the NFL, Brown further unloaded on Twitter about what he perceived as unequal treatment regarding his sexual assault allegations. One target of those barbs was his former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended for four games in 2010 after a woman accused him of sexual assault in Georgia.
He also took aim at former NFL tight end and current Fox Sports 1 host Shannon Sharpe, who left his job with CBS after sexual assault allegations surfaced:
He also blasted Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was implicated as a customer of a sex trafficking operation that was run out of a Florida massage parlor:
He also seemed to praise Patriots fans who allegedly threatened the Sports Illustrated reporter who revealed his alleged threatening text messages to one of his sexual assault accusers:
All of this was a far cry from what Brown tweeted just two days ago about his time with the Patriots.