Antonio Brown’s relentless social media attacks on the Oakland Raiders did not come by chance, a new report suggests.
Just hours after the All-Pro wide receiver took to Instagram to demand that the team release him, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Brown had been working with social media consultants in order to find ways to force the team to release him. In a video shared on Twitter, Mortensen said that Brown’s attack on the Raiders started earlier in the week, when he posted on Instagram a letter from general manager Mike Mayock outlining more than $50,000 in fines that Brown faced for failing to show up to team activities during the preseason.
Mortensen’s report would seem to explain Brown’s increasingly agitated behavior on social media over the course of the week. The wide receiver frequently made posts calling out the Raiders, including posting a highly produced YouTube video showing himself working out overlaid with audio from a phone call with coach Jon Gruden. During the call, Gruden empathized with Brown and seemed to beg him to return to the team.
“Let me ask you this — do you want to be a Raider or not?” Gruden asked pointedly during the phone call.
Brown also used social media to ask for his release from the Raiders, which the team granted on Saturday afternoon. He would sign with the Patriots just a few hours later, sparking speculation that he may have orchestrated his release after all.
It’s not clear if Brown could face potential discipline from the NFL for the events of the last week. The league has a wide latitude to discipline players for off-field incidents, which could include Brown’s verbal confrontation with the Raiders’ general manager.
And Brown may not be getting the clean break he wanted from the Raiders after all. As Pro Football Talk reported, since the Raiders did not release the rights to any of the $29.625 million in guaranteed compensation for the wide receiver, Brown can file a grievance and attempt to collect the money. But it would not be easy for him to win.
“Check out the language from his contract; by leaving training camp and missing another practice (at the price of $53,950), Brown gave the Raiders enough ammunition to void his guarantees,” the report noted. “His altercation with G.M. Mike Mayock (which reportedly triggered another $215,000 in fines) surely provided the final nail in his claim for guaranteed money.”