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New Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown may have sought guidance from professional social media consultants for ways to hasten his contractual release from the Oakland Raiders, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter NFL Network’s Mike Giardi.
Brown’s turbulent stay with Oakland officially ended Saturday, when the Raiders cut the All-Pro receiver. His release capped a series of unusual events, including a public fallout between Brown and general manager Mike Mayock regarding a set of fines the player rejected. Brown previously shared the letter he received from the Raiders’ front office on his Instagram story.
The subsequent argument—in which Brown called Mayock a “cracker” and angrily punted a football—pushed the Raiders over the edge. Brown later apologized to the team, and the Raiders announced Friday that he was expected to suit up for the team’s season opener against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.
However, the argument led to the Pro Bowler being fined over $215,000 for “conduct detrimental to the team.” The fine, and its reasoning, enabled the Raiders to void the remaining $29.125 million of guaranteed money. Just before his release, Brown told NFL insiders he would not play without his guarantees.
I just got an email from Antonio Brown. He tells me the team “took away my guarantees.” He added there’s “no way I play after they took that and made my contract week to week.” So at this moment, once again, don’t expect AB to play on Monday Night Football.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 7, 2019
Brown then posted on Instagram asking the Raiders to release him from his contract.
View this post on Instagram
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
A post shared by Boomin (@ab) on
NFL insider Adam Schefter posted another video of Brown running ecstatically around his backyard after learning of his release.
Here’s Antonio Brown finding out the Raiders released him: pic.twitter.com/nP4AZUh84s— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2019
Brown swiftly signed with the New England Patriots, who previously desired to trade a first-round pick for the receiver but were rebuffed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown’s 2018 team.
Antonio Brown and the Patriots reached agreement on a 1-year deal worth up $15 million that includes a $9 million signing bonus, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2019
Patriots tried to trade for Antonio Brown in March, but Steelers did not want to trade him to a rival. So instead of having to give up a pick or picks for him in March, Patriots get Brown without having to compensate another team in September.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 8, 2019
ESPN later learned that Brown had been engineering a release all along. In a tweet, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen wrote that Brown “also sought out advice from social media consultants for ideas on how [to] accelerate his release [from] Raiders. The first blow was posting the letter from Mike Mayock informing him of fines that included ‘conduct detriment,’ which led to the next day confrontation.”
Brown also sought out advice from social media consultants for ideas on how he accelerate his release with Raiders. The first blow was posting the letter from Mike Mayock informing him of fines that included “conduct detriment,” which led to the next day confrontation— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 8, 2019
Of course, the internet had immediate jokes, as people shared various memes positioning Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as the mastermind behind Brown’s release.
“Just call him a cracker, your flight leaves at 9AM Monday,” one meme depicts Belichick saying.
Live look at the “social media consultant.” pic.twitter.com/JrKFjaqQr8— Sho'Nuff Skywalker (@BreakandEnterTV) September 8, 2019
Antonio Brown: “Release Me”— Randy Cruz (@randyjcruz) September 7, 2019
Bill Belichick: pic.twitter.com/8k5GALMlHB
Bill Belichick on his way to go pick up Antonio Brown pic.twitter.com/rpr4SJkTwx— FanDuel (@FanDuel) September 7, 2019
*Jokes all day about Bill Belichick and the Patriots signing Antonio Brown*— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) September 7, 2019
*Patriots sign Antonio Brown*
The Patriots sound like they are excited to have Brown, even after Sunday night’s 33-3 drubbing of Brown’s former team, the Steelers.
It didn't really look like the Patriots need Antonio Brown. But in the locker room after the game, they certainly sounded like they want him. From SportsCenter: pic.twitter.com/ZhgIfThe35— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 9, 2019
But of course, many are disappointed to the point of hyperbole. “What we have just witnessed is the most unprofessional act that I can ever remember seeing in professional sports,” Mike Greenburg said on ESPN’s Get Up!
“I can’t excuse the kind of behavior that he has exhibited,” ESPN First Take commentator Stephen A. Smith said. “He should be ashamed of himself. His family should be ashamed of him. His friends should be ashamed of him.”
Based on his aforementioned celebration video, Brown doesn’t seem too bothered by these opinions.
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H/T Daily Mail
Kahron Spearman is a music and film critic whose work can also regularly be regularly found in the Austin Chronicle.