By Luke Mich
Over the past decade, Antonio Brown has stood out as one of the most successful professional athletes Pittsburgh has ever had. However, after nine prosperous seasons with the Steelers, he was traded away to Oakland, where he began to find himself in continual troubles. Throughout the course of the last seven months, he has been traded, injured, suspended, released by two other teams, accused of sexual assault and rape and has threatened to assault a team owner.
When asked about what may lead football players to this type of behavior, Christopher McMahon, Saint Vincent faculty athletic representative, said that, "playing a professional sport can open people to bad vices. There [can be] a sense of entitlement and misogyny [among successful players],” McMahon stated.
According to McMahon, this type of behavior from Brown “shouldn’t surprise anyone."
When Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders in March, it appeared that the drama stirred up in the previous couple of months would subside. However, last year, Brown was suspended during week 17, the regular season finale, after having a heated dispute with Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger at practice four days prior.
John Allen, a student who worked at Steelers Training Camp this past year, believes this was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“The thing that set [Brown] off was Ben’s ownership mentality,” Allen said. “Ben often verbally assaults players because he can get away it, and before the week 17 game when Ben yelled at Brown, [Brown] lost it and had enough.”
The Steelers won the game but failed to make the playoffs when the Indianapolis Colts won later that night. After this incident, Brown was sent to Oakland. However, problems persisted when Brown refused to practice because of his helmet. The NFL’s new policy prevented Brown from using his current helmet, and Brown filed multiple grievances against the league, all of which failed.
Brown then injured himself when he had frostbitten feet from a cryotherapy session gone wrong. Near the end of August, Brown finally returned to football and started practice with the Raiders, culminating in another confrontation.
On Sept. 4, the Wednesday before the Raiders’ Monday night home match and opening game against the Denver Broncos, Brown was suspended after a confrontation with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. Brown reportedly yelled at Mayock and threatened to hit him in the face, as players held Brown back to avoid further conflict.
Brown was fined over $200,000 for the incident, lost all his guaranteed money from his contract, and initially faced suspension from the Broncos game before coach Jon Gruden announced the following day that Brown would play. Later that night, Brown put out a video on YouTube that had audio of a private conversation between himself and Gruden. The video, revealed Gruden saying, “Please stop this s--- and just play football."
The following morning, Brown made a request to be released which was granted. A few hours later, he signed with the defending champion New England Patriots, only to be accused of sexual assault and rape the following Monday by his former personal trainer, which remains an ongoing investigation today.
Ten days later, after another accusation of sexual misconduct, the Patriots also released Brown from his contract with them, stating that it was “best to move in a different direction at this time."
Currently, Brown has voiced on Twitter that he won’t play football again, and that he is currently taking online courses at Central Michigan University. Brown also argued online with active football players and mentioned other football players involved in cases regarding sexual misconduct and assault.
Mario Allegrini, another student who worked at Steelers Training Camp this past year, ,stated that Brown is acting very childish.
“[He is] costing himself millions of dollars and possibly his career. I believe he won’t play football again,” he said.
Eileen Flinn, Title IX Coordinator, sees it differently.
Though she believes Brown’s accuser, Flinn said: “I believe that everyone can find redemption, and everyone has the opportunity to bounce back.”