By Ryan Gaydos
Published September 20, 2019
A rape claim against superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown could possibly bring an end to a career that has seen almost everything — from wide-ranging success to outbursts and on-field disputes to several lawsuits off the field.
There is no doubt that Brown is a generational type wide receiver who has been the best, or at least one of the best, players at his position for several years.
Brown, who played his entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers until he was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2019 and later cut and signed by the New England Patriots (in a matter of hours), has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times and was named an All-Pro four times.
In seven of his nine seasons, Brown has recorded more than 1,000 yards receiving. He’s caught more than 100 passes in six straight seasons and led the league in touchdown catches with 18 in 2018, his final year with the Steelers.
But for every amazing accolade Brown has received, there appears to be an equal amount of drama to go with it — from outbursts to serious criminal allegations, which all started in his final seasons with the Steelers and bled to his offseason stint with Oakland this summer.
Read below for a timeline of Brown’s drama and scandals.
July 28, 2012: The Pittsburgh Steelers and Antonio Brown agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million deal after his two stellar seasons. Brown’s former teammate Ryan Clark would reveal six years later that Brown started to yell at then-defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and other defenders not to touch him because he was “the franchise.” Clark made the revelation on ESPN in December 2018.
Sept. 7, 2014: Brown caught heat in the team’s season-opener against the Cleveland Browns. He was returning a kick and attempted to hurdle Browns punter Spencer Lanning. Instead of leaping over the punter, Brown nailed Lanning in the facemask. The play garnered negative attention and Brown was fined $8,200 for the incident. He apologized for the kick and said it was an accident.
Jan. 9, 2016: The Steelers rivalry with the Cincinnati Bengals escalated during their wildcard playoff matchup. Brown was leveled late in the fourth quarter of the game by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cost Brown the next playoff game. Brown was diagnosed with a concussion and later said in a radio interview that Burfict was an “idiot.” Burfict reportedly apologized to Brown.
September/October 2016: Brown had an incredible first couple weeks of the 2016 season but came into the spotlight again when he was fined $15,191 after Week 1 for violating the league’s uniform policy for wearing baby blue cleats and for twerking in the end zone as a touchdown celebration. Brown received a $24,309 fine for doing a similar dance when he scored in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jan. 8, 2017: Brown and the Steelers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in their divisional-round matchup. Brown, who had been asked by at least two teammates to keep a low profile on social media, went on Facebook Live and recorded coach Mike Tomlin’s postgame speech, where he spoke crudely about their next opponents – the New England Patriots. Brown was disciplined and apologized for causing a distraction. He was reportedly paid by Facebook prior to the start of the season to create content for the platform.
Feb. 5, 2019: Brown was reportedly involved in a domestic dispute in January when he was accused of pushing the mother of one of his children after she asked him for reimbursement for a haircut. Police told TMZ Sports that Brown was not arrested; his attorney called the allegations “baseless.”
Feb. 27, 2017: Brown signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension with the Steelers, which paid him $17 million annually. The contract made him the highest-paid wide receiver in football at that time.
Oct. 1, 2017: Brown became upset with Ben Roethlisberger during their game against the Baltimore Ravens. Brown had four receptions for 34 yards and was targeted nine times in the game. He was seen flipping a water cooler and yelling at offensive coordinator Todd Haley for not getting the ball more.
Oct. 9, 2018: Brown was accused of nearly killing a toddler in April 2018 after throwing furniture off of his 14th-floor balcony. Brown was accused of traumatizing the child in his supposed “fit of rage.” Brown reportedly blamed someone else for throwing the furniture. To settle the lawsuit, Brown in June 2019 agreed to pay for the child’s college fund.
Week 17 2018: This appeared to be the week when Brown’s tenure in Pittsburgh was really starting to crash and burn. Brown reportedly got into an argument with Roethlisberger leading up to the team’s final game of the season against the Bengals and skipped practices during the week. He was benched for the game and reports of his unhappiness in Pittsburgh started to surface. He eventually requested a trade.
Jan. 3, 2019: Brown’s former teammate Ryan Clark, who became an ESPN analyst, said during a broadcast that it was time for the Steelers to get rid of Brown and that the team had created a “monster by giving him a big contract.” The wide receiver had responded to the comment, calling Clark an “Uncle Tom.”
Feb. 12, 2019: Brown was found guilty of reckless driving after failing to show up for court on the charge. The incident occurred in November 2018, when he was cited for driving more than 100 mph. Brown was heading toward Heinz Field for a Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers.
March 9, 2019: The Oakland Raiders made the blockbuster move to acquire Brown from the Steelers for third-round and fifth-round 2019 draft picks. Brown vowed to be a good teammate and bring good energy to the team, which had been lacking after the team went 4-12 in Jon Gruden’s first season of his second stint in the organization.
Aug. 3, 2019: Brown was missing practices with the Raiders because of reported foot injuries. Brown posted a picture on Instagram showing his blistered feet. However, days later it was revealed that Brown was suffering from frostbite due to failing to wear the correct footwear in the cryotherapy chamber. He missed several training camp practices.
Aug. 9, 2019: Brown had been banned from wearing his old helmet--NFL rules state that players are barred from wearing any helmet that is more than 10 years old. The helmet saga lasted for weeks. Brown reportedly threatened to retire and subsequently lost two grievances to wear the older helmet. He announced on Sept. 4 he would wear the Xenith Shadow helmet during the 2019 season.
Aug. 14, 2019: Brown was accused in a lawsuit of stiffing --to the tune of $38,000--a celebrity chef whom he hired to cook for him in January in the days leading up to the Pro Bowl. Brown was accused of throwing the chef out of his rental on the second day he was supposed to cook and holding his cooking tools captive. Brown’s attorney said they would file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Sept. 4, 2019: Brown received a notice from general manager Mike Mayock that the team reserved the right to fine him for missing practice and having unexcused absences. Brown posted the letter on his Instagram and captioned the photo: “WHEN YOUR OWN TEAM WANT TO HATE BUT THERE'S NO STOPPING ME NOW DEVIL IS A LIE. EVERYONE GOT TO PAY THIS YEAR SO WE CLEAR.”
Sept. 5, 2019: Brown and general manager Mike Mayock reportedly got into a heated confrontation and led to a verbal altercation. Brown allegedly called Mayock a “cracker,” which Brown later denied. Brown also had to be held back by teammates and threatened to punch Mayock in the face, according to reports.
Sept. 6, 2019: Brown gave an emotional apology to his teammates for his actions and was expected to play Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. Hours later, Brown released a video on his YouTube page of a private conversation between him and Gruden. The video raised eyebrows around the league and questions over whether Gruden knew he was being recorded. The video producer later told ESPN Radio that Brown sent Gruden the video and that Gruden texted back that he loved it.
Sept. 7, 2019: The Raiders fined $219,000 for his altercation with Mayock and voided $29 million that was guaranteed to Brown in his contract. Brown then asked for his release via social media and the Raiders obliged ending the nearly six-month saga. Soon after his release, Brown was signed by the New England Patriots.
Sept. 10, 2019: Before Brown could ever take the field with the Patriots, he was accused in a civil suit of sexually assaulting and raping his former trainer on three separate occasions in 2017 and 2018. Brown’s attorney said his client denied the allegations. He may be placed on the commissioner's exempt list, which would make him inactive each week he's on the list but will still receive a paycheck. Only the commissioner has the authority to place him on the list or remove him.
Sept. 13, 2019: Brown reportedly lost his endorsement deal with helmet manufacturer Xenith after sexual assault allegations surfaced against the embattled NFL wide rereceiver. ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report that the helmet manufacturer had decided to end the relationship.
Sept. 16, 2019: Brown plays his first game of the season with the Patriots and scores a touchdown in a win.
Sept. 19, 2019: Sports apparel maker Nike ends its endorsement deal with Brown. "Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete," a company spokesperson tells FOX Business. The spokesperson did not elaborate on why the company is no longer working with Brown. It had released a signature sneaker for him, the Nike Tech Trainer Antonio Brown, last February.
Sept. 19, 2019: The NFL receives a letter in which a lawyer claims Brown sent the lawyer's client “intimidating” text messages after her allegations about Brown’s past behavior were made public earlier in the week, a report says.