Antonio Brown faces discipline by the Oakland Raiders after the star wide receiver and General Manager Mike Mayock had a heated confrontation Wednesday.
The team has not announced how it plans to proceed with Brown but is believed to be mulling its options, which include fining, suspending or perhaps even releasing the seven-time Pro Bowl player.
Brown and Mayock had an animated discussion Wednesday after Brown posted on social media a photo of a fine letter from the team, according to a person familiar with the situation. That could lead to further disciplinary action by the Raiders against Brown, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team had made no official announcement.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Brown, told the NFL Network that Brown had been told to stay home Thursday but had not been told anything definitive about possible disciplinary measures as of Thursday night. Rosenhaus said that he was “trying to work through this” with the Raiders and his “goal is to work everything out.”
The NFL Network reported that Brown is not expected to play in the Raiders’ opening game Monday night against Denver but did not specify whether that would result from a suspension without pay or a deactivation with pay. A deactivation could serve to give the Raiders more time to make a final decision.
According to a report by ESPN, the team plans to suspend Brown. The league-owned NFL Network reported that Brown threatened to punch Mayock in the face during the confrontation, which did not actually become physical, and then punted a football and told Mayock to fine him for that. The Athletic reported that teammates had to restrain Brown.
Brown did not participate in the Raiders’ practice Thursday. Mayock, the former draft analyst for the NFL Network who’s in his first year as GM, spoke to reporters briefly at the Raiders’ facility but did not address specifics or take questions from the media.
“Antonio Brown is not in the building today,” Mayock said. “He won’t be practicing. I don’t have any more information for you right now. And when I have some and it becomes appropriate, you guys will all get it. I promise you. But that’s it for today.”
Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, speaking to reporters following Thursday’s practice, said the team would “have an official announcement later,” and like Mayock, he refused to comment on the details of Wednesday’s incident or the club’s plans regarding Brown.
“We’re still getting to the bottom of everything,” Gruden said. “All I can do is comment on the football team. I’m out here on the field coaching the guys that are here. And we’ve got a lot of guys working hard. So we’ll give you the information on Antonio when we have it official and correct and right. I don’t want to speculate any further. I can’t do it.”
Gruden, who is entering the second season of his return to coaching after leaving ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast booth, acknowledged that the Raiders were preparing for the possibility of being without Brown when the season begins.
According to others within the league, the Raiders were believed to be considering the possibility of releasing Brown rather than fining or suspending him and attempting to recoup the guaranteed money in his contract. It was not clear, however, how seriously the team was considering cutting its ties to Brown entirely.
Under the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, a club can suspend a player for as many as four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. The player, through the NFLPA, could appeal any disciplinary action.
The NFLPA had “not yet” been informed as of early Thursday afternoon that the Raiders intend to suspend Brown, a person close to the situation said. Brown’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, Brown posted the photo of a letter he had received from Mayock informing him that he had been fined $13,950 for missing a walk-through on Aug. 22 before the Raiders’ third exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers. That sanction was added to the $40,000 he was fined for missing the final practice of training camp on Aug. 18. That day, Mayock told reporters that “from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out.”
In the social media post, Brown annotated the photo with a caption that seemed to express his displeasure with the news.
“When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now devil is a lie,” he wrote. “Everyone got to pay this year so we clear.”
Brown would lose $860,294, or one-seventeenth of his 2019 salary of $14.625 million, for each game that he’s suspended without pay. He signed a three-year, $50.1 million contract with the Raiders as part of the offseason trade that sent him to Oakland from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders also could attempt to recoup a portion of the $30.1 million in guaranteed money in the contract.
Brown began training camp on the non-football injury list due to injuries to his feet, reportedly suffered while undergoing cryotherapy treatments in France in early July. Brown confirmed the injury during interviews on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”
He also spent a sizable chunk of camp arguing with the NFL over his use of the helmet he has used throughout his career. Brown filed two unsuccessful grievances against the league seeking to be allowed to wear a helmet not approved by the NFL under its joint program with the players’ union, in which various helmet models are evaluated for their ability to absorb impacts.
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