When Antonio Brown found out the Oakland Raiders released him Saturday, he burst out of his chair, sprinted outside, flapped his wings, and yelled “free!”
Brown was invigorated by the news, and he was also thrilled to later join the Patriots.
The news that he was coming to New England was a surprise, but his release from the Raiders was anything but after a string of unusual outbursts and feuding. Brown joined the Raiders in March and was there for less than six months.
Brown told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington there was “no way” he was going to play for the Raiders after they took away his contract guarantees. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Raiders fined Brown $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team, which, Darlington clarified, voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money in his deal.
Darlington wrote that the Raiders told him he would be playing on a week-to-week basis. Brown explicitly requested that the Raiders release him, noting that he’s not mad at anyone but simply wants “the freedom to prove them all wrong.”
“You are gonna piss a lot of people off when you start doing what’s best for you,” Brown wrote.
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And that’s fine ! I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines.Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years. “I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong.” Release me @raiders #NOMore #theyputblindersonahorseforareason #NoMoreFake
Before that, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said the team planned to play Brown in Week 1, but that belief didn’t last long. The two sides had built up too much animosity for that to happen.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Friday that Brown had initiated a confrontation during the week with general manager Mike Mayock and “unleashed a barrage of cuss words” and called Mayok a “cracker.” Brown denied to ESPN’s Dianna Russini that he used that word, but it’s clear a confrontation occurred.
Gruden and Brown reportedly had a conversation about his future with the team, and Gruden encouraged Brown to focus on football. The wide receiver reportedly responded by saying it’s not that simple.
“I’m more than just a football player, man,” Brown reportedly said. “I’m a real person. I’m a real person. It ain’t about the football, I know I can do that. I show you guys that on the daily. This is my life. Ain’t no more games.”
In July, he reportedly showed up to training camp with frostbite on the bottom of both feet due to a cryotherapy mishap earlier in the month in France. He was spotted in a hot-air balloon shortly after that and was reportedly fined $40,000 for an unexcused absence.
Then in August, Brown said he needed to wear the same helmet he had worn throughout his career even though the NFL rules required he use a new one for safety purposes. Brown turned to the public to find a model of Schutt Air Advantage helmet that would be acceptable to the league. ESPN reported that on Sept. 4 he found a league-approved helmet he liked.