FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Antonio Brown went on a Twitter rant on his first NFL Sunday without a team, announcing he was done for good with the league that exiled him. Even though, he claimed, it had been more lenient toward others facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
On the morning his most recent team was preparing to play without him, the fleet-footed but fleeting New England receiver said in a tweet: “Will not be playing in the NFL anymore” and took shots at Patriots owner Robert Kraft and longtime Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Kraft was arrested in connection with a prostitution and sexual trafficking sting in a Florida massage parlor and has not been punished; “Different strokes different folks clearly,” Brown wrote.
Roethlisberger was suspended for four games in 2010 after he was accused of sexual assault for a second time. “4 games for Big Ben crazy world I’m done with it,” Brown tweeted over a screenshot of a news article about the investigation.
Several of the tweets had been deleted by the time the Patriots kicked off against the New York Jets a couple of hours later.
One of the NFL’s most prolific receivers for a decade, Brown was traded out of Pittsburgh and released in Oakland after wearing out his welcome in both cities.
The Patriots signed him anyway, and just days later a former trailer filed a civil lawsuit in Florida accusing him of rape. He played in one game, then was released after the team learned he tried to intimidate a second woman who accused him of sexual misconduct.
Asked by CBS before the game what led him to end things, Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to comment.
Brown’s first tweet on Sunday seemed to indicate that he will fight the Patriots’ decision to withhold a $9 million signing bonus. The first installment is due on Monday, and the Patriots are attempting to void the deal even though they played him in one game despite knowing about two separate accusations of sexual misconduct.
A person familiar with the process told The Associated Press that Brown has not yet filed a grievance, which the NFLPA would be obligated to pursue. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the grievance is not released to the public.
Brown had also been guaranteed $29 million by the Raiders.
“Will not be playing in the (at)NFL anymore,” he wrote. “These owners can cancel deals do whatever they want at anytime we will see if the (at)NFLPA hold them accountable sad they can just void guarantees anytime going on 40m 2 months will see if they pay up !”
Brown also appeared to condone threats made against the Sports Illustrated writer whose article included the allegations that led to Brown’s release. Over a news article describing the threats from some Patriots fans, Brown wrote, “System working effectively.”
That tweet also was deleted.
A four-time All-Pro who caught 837 passes over nine seasons with the Steelers, Brown wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh after he went missing for two days before the 2018 season finale. The Steelers traded him to Oakland, which signed him to a contract that would have paid him up to $50 million over the next three seasons.
But he never played a game for the Raiders, quarreling with the coach and general manager until they, too, released him. The Patriots signed him only a few hours later, giving him a one-year deal.
Belichick also declined to comment on Brown after the 30-14 victory over the New York Jets. Special teams captain Matthew Slater wished the man who was briefly his teammate well.
“I wish everyone involved well,” Slater said. “I’m not the type of person who would wish ill will on anyone. I always try to take a positive spin on things. That’s where I’m going to leave it.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.