Go ahead, Jon Gruden.
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Make Antonio Brown’s day. If not, tomorrow promises another day with more drama.
A day after Brown apologized to his Oakland Raiders teammates for apparently igniting a few more rounds of drama as the season opener approached, the combustible receiver posted a request on social media on Saturday morning indicated that he wants his outright release.
This could be the easiest decision yet for the Raiders, who were indeed considering it as the latest drama unfolded on Saturday.
At this point, cutting their losses now – while saving more than $29 million in guaranteed money, USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones confirmed, that could have been due to Brown – seems like the only option.
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Brown, who on Friday night posted a YouTube video that portrayed a recorded conversation with Gruden, apparently wants to be released after receiving notice that he was fined more than $215,073 for conduct detrimental to the team, according to ESPN.
Brown was also informed that due to the nature of the fine – which stemmed from a heated exchange with Raiders GM Mike Mayock – the team felt that it voided his contract guarantees.
Gruden has been upbeat and encouraging with his support of Brown through one incident after another, which included the receiver’s beef with the NFL over his banned helmet. Brown also skipped a practice and team meeting, which was at the root of his issue with Mayock. And for much of training camp, Brown was unable to practice while recovering from frost-bitten feet sustained while undergoing treatment in France before camp.
On one level, it is sad that Brown – arguably the NFL’s best receiver – has had his fresh start unravel after multiple issues during his Pittsburgh Steelers tenure led to his trade to Oakland. The problems could underscore deeper, even personal issues that have not been revealed.
In any event, it leaves the Raiders cornered with the dysfunctional situation looming as a constant threat to the team’s chemistry. Sure, Brown is one of the most talented players in football. But this can’t be just about football. It seems to be much deeper than that.
Maybe that’s why Gruden has stuck with Brown to this point. Yet support is a two-way street.