After first trying their best to appease him, the Oakland Raiders appear on the verge of suspending wide receiver Antonio Brown.
ESPN reported Thursday that Brown and general manager Mike Mayock were involved in a “heated exchange” on the practice field that finally prompted the team to consider taking action with Brown.
According to The Athletic, Brown was held back by teammates Vontaze Burfict and rookie Johnathan Abram during his fray with Mayock, a former analyst for the NFL Network. Brown reportedly told Mayock he would strike him in the face and then defiantly punted a ball and dared the GM to fine him.
Sources say the Raiders have not decided on the length of the suspension, but that there are those within the organization that want Brown off the team as soon as possible.
The Raiders are likely to look a ways to recoup the $30.125 million that was guaranteed in his contract because of various violations within the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFL.
Since his signing, Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl pick, has proven to be a major headache to the Raiders, who traded with Pittsburgh Steelers for him hoping he’d combine with quarterback Derek Carr to create one of the league’s fearsome pitch and catch combinations.
Instead, Brown has only caused trouble. First, his feet were burned during a cryotherapy session in France, causing him to miss a good portion of training camp. Then Brown refused to practice, and subsequently left camp, over a disagreement with the league over not being allowed to wear a 10-year-old helmet which no longer passed league safety standards.
After publicly supporting Brown on both issues, the Raiders regrouped this week and fined Brown about $54,000 for the time he missed in training camp. Brown was also informed he was being fined $13,950 for missing a walk-through on Aug. 22, an unexcused absence.
The Raiders also fined him $40,000 for missing camp on August 18. That was the day that Mayock famously told Brown, through his comments to the media, that “It’s time for him to be all-in or all-out.”
Brown posted the letter from Mayock on his Instagram account, which prompted the confrontation ESPN says played out in front of his teammates.
Brown wrote: “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.”
Speaking to reporters at training camp on Thursday, Mayock confirmed Brown was not at practice, but he would not confirm or deny that he would be suspended.
“Antonio Brown is not in the building today,” said Mayock. “He’s 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. Thank you.”
The league’s collective bargaining agreement specifies a player can be suspended for a maximum of four weeks for matters viewed detrimental to the team. In his letter to Brown, Mayock specifically told him “the Raiders reserve the right to impose additional remedies … for engaging in Conduct Detrimental to the Club.”
During his time on the field Wednesday, Brown did not stretch with his teammates but joined the other receivers for drills. Observers pointed out he took some plays off without being excused. He also fired a ball into a fence after catching a pass from Carr. Brown also yelled at a strength and conditioning coach during the workout. Brown did not speak to the media after practice.