This has been one crazy year for Antonio Brown.
One of the NFL’s top wide receivers is facing a lawsuit accusing him of rape — allegations he denies — just days after he signed with the New England Patriots.
How he even got to the Patriots was its own saga. The onetime Pittsburgh Steelers mainstay was traded to the Oakland Raiders in the offseason, setting up a dizzying summer training camp in which fans wondered when he would — or whether he’d ever — take the field again: He’s burned his feet! He’s might retire over a helmet! He’s demanding his release!
He never played a down for the Raiders, but so much happened with him over the past few months. We’ll catch you up:
The Steelers traded him to Oakland in March …
Brown’s nine-year tenure with the Steelers ended badly, with the team benching him in the 2018 season’s final game in part because of a dispute with his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers decided to unload their seven-time Pro Bowl selection, trading him to the Raiders for third- and fifth-round draft picks in late March.
He signed for three years and $54 million, with guaranteed money — and this would be a significant issue later — of more than $30 million, according to the NFL Network.
… but he damaged his feet before training camp
His time with the Raiders got off a shaky start. Before training camp began, he suffered frostbite on his feet, reportedly during a cryotherapy treatment session in France.
So when the Raiders’ training camp started in Napa, California, in late July, he couldn’t participate fully in practice.
HBO’s “Hard Knocks” followed the Raiders at camp, probably anticipating it’d catch Brown in some team drills in the first episode. Brown wasn’t fit for that, but he did take a hot-air balloon ride.
And he reportedly threatened to quit over his helmet
While he was recovering from his injury, he was fretting about new NFL helmet guidelines and reportedly threatening to retire because of them.
The NFL is banning some older-model helmets this season to improve player safety. Brown still wanted to use one of the prohibited helmets.
But while trying to get his feet healthy and dealing with the grievances, Brown had spent a lot of time away from training camp.
Meanwhile, a chef had sued him
By mid-August, CNN was reporting that a chef in had sued him in Florida for something that allegedly happened last year.
Stefano Tedeschi alleged in a lawsuit that he had agreed to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for Brown and others at a Florida rental property during the NFL’s Pro Bowl weekend in January 2018.
He alleged Brown wrongfully terminated the contract in the middle of that weekend and would not allow him to retrieve his equipment and leftover food.
Tedeschi is seeking $38,521. Brown’s attorney’s filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit this month.
The Raiders started fining Brown
Brown would eventually practice with the Raiders, but he never played in any of the team’s four preseason games.
On September 4 — five days before the Raiders’ season opener — Brown let the world know that the Raiders had fined him $40,000 for missing part of training camp and $13,950 for not participating in the Raiders’ walk-through ahead of their August 22 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg, Canada.
He did this by posting to Instagram a letter that the team’s general manager, Mike Mayock, had written him.
Brown and the general manager argued
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mayock was frustrated that Brown posted the letter.
During practice that day, Brown and Mayock got into a nonphysical but heated exchange on the practice field, Rapoport reported.
The next day, September 5, Mayock told reporters Brown wouldn’t be practicing.
Brown apologized, and the coach said he would play
But the following morning, Friday, September 6, Brown apologized at a team meeting, and he was back at practice.
Head coach Jon Gruden even told reporters the team planned to have Brown play Monday night.
He posted a phone conversation with his coach
Late Friday, Brown posted to YouTube what appears to be a phone conversation with Gruden.
The post’s caption says in part, “It’s time for me to control my own narrative. Show the world I’m not the bad guy.”
In the audio, Gruden appears to ask: “Do you want to be a Raider or not?”
“I don’t know why it’s a question of me being a Raider. It’s like — do you guys want me to be a Raider?” Brown responds.
The Raiders took away his guarantees, and he asked for his release
If the Raiders really intended Friday to play Brown in the first game, all of that went out the window by Saturday morning.
That’s when it emerged that the Raiders had fined Brown more than $215,000 for his spat with Mayock — and that let the Raiders void the guaranteed money in Brown’s contract, NFL.com reported.
Brown wasn’t having that. That morning, he wrote “Release me” in a post on Instagram.
The Raiders released him, and the Patriots picked him up
And the Raiders did just that before the morning ended. No one looked more pleased than Brown, who apparently found out checking out his phone in his kitchen. YouTube video shows him running around his yard in celebration.
By late afternoon, he’d signed with the New England Patriots. His one-year deal with New England is worth $15 million and includes a $9 million signing bonus, the NFL Network reported.
Brown’s former trainer accused him of rape
Brown wasn’t eligible for the Patriots’ first game Sunday, which happened to be against his old team, Pittsburgh.
The Raiders, who never saw Brown suit up in a game for them, would win their season opener Monday night.
Tuesday, a woman who used to train Brown accused him of rape in a federal lawsuit filed in Florida. He denies the accusations, according to his attorney.