Another NFL football season, another scandal. Last year we watched (and wrote about) Vontae Davis ‘retiring’ and walking out of a game at halftime. This year we’ll be examining Antonio Brown’s turbulent 2019 season, his sudden departure from the NFL, as well as his contractual obligations.
To say former Steelers-Raiders-Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has had an eventful 2019 might be the understatement of the year. Signing with the Oakland Raiders in March, everyone believed that the talented wide receiver would have a successful run with his new team. It was short lived, as Brown ended up leaving (or depending who you ask – getting dropped by) the Raiders before the season even started. After injuries (including getting frostbite on his feet from a cryotherapy machine), specific incidents with his coaches, and skipping mandatory practices, the Raiders fined Brown more than $215,000 for conduct detrimental to the team. By fining him, the Raiders actually voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money. Brown said he won’t play for the team without guaranteed money, and then was finally released after sharing an Instagram post about the Raiders that included a taped phone call between himself and Head Coach Jon Gruden.
Less than six hours after his release, Brown signed a one year, $15 million deal (with a $9 million signing bonus) with the New England Patriots.He would have also received $1.5 million for reaching these marks throughout the season – 105 catches, 1,298 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. This money aso has the chance to be increased if he surpassed those goals.
As if this wasn’t enough of a plot twist, serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Brown began to surface, and after only one game, Brown was also dropped by the Patriots, and had seemingly voided his contract again.
Brown is also at risk of losing the majority of his sponsorship income as well (which was likely two to three times more than his actual NFL salary). While it is unclear which are still active, it’s worth noting Brown has/had major affiliation deals with Nike, Facebook, Pepsi, Xbox, Pizza Hut, Microsoft, Campbell’s, Papa John’s, NFL.com, Buffalo Wild Wings, Gillette, and others. At the time of this post, both Nike and Pepsi have officially ended their endorsement agreements with Brown after the allegations were brought to light.
Brown posted a statement to Twitter on September 22, 2019 saying that he would no longer be playing for the NFL, and would be filing a lawsuit with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). Brown is seeking to reclaim more than $40 million that he believes he is owed from both the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. Grievances were officially filed on his behalf by the NFLPA on Friday, October 4, 2019.
So does he actually have a case?
We were able to find a photo of Antonio Brown’s Patriots contract posted online by Albert Breer, Senior NFL Reporter at Sports Illustrated. First, we used Heretik’s new OCR functionality to get it into our Heretik Viewer for further review.
We then located and coded the language about his conditional and guaranteed salary. Obviously, the Patriots will be arguing that he violated his contract under Section 28b, which highlights a player’s behavior when under contract with a team and how they behave in the public eye. If you are interested in a full legal interpretation of Antonio Brown’s case, check out this Sports Illustrated article.
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Claire is a Marketing Coordinator at Heretik. She recently graduated from Miami University Ohio with a double major in Journalism and Mandarin Chinese. Prior to Heretik, Claire worked at Amdur Productions and for Miami University College of Arts and Science.