SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Oakland Raiders roller-coaster preseason with star receiver Antonio Brown was on an upswing Friday as he was at the team’s practice facility and was expected to play in Monday night’s regular season opener against Denver.
What a transition from just 24 hours earlier when Brown was not at the facility and there were rumors he was to be suspended for an ugly confrontation practice field Wednesday with Oakland General Manager Mike Mayock.
“Antonio’s back today, we’re really excited about that,” head coach John Gruden told reporters. “We ready to move on. He’s obviously a lot of time to think about things. We’re happy to have him back and Raider Nation’s excited about that too.”
When asked if he would play against the Broncos, Gruden said: “That’s the plan.”
“Antonio’s back today, we’re really excited about that. Ready to move on.”
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 6, 2019
Brown also met with reporters.
“I’m excited to be out here today,” he said in a brief statement. “I want to apologize to my teammates, the organization…I’m excited to be a part of the Raiders. See you all soon.”
Earlier in the day, ESPN reported that Brown had appeared before his teammates and apologized for his on-field confrontation.
The apparent act of contrition came after a wild Thursday when Brown did not come to practice and the team appeared to be considering actions to void his three-year, $50.125 million contract.
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter reported that Brown and Mayock “got into it” on Wednesday and that the team was planning a suspension, citing league sources.
The Next Chapter: Antonio Brown and GM Mike Mayock got into it Wednesday, and the team is now planning to suspend its star wide receiver, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 5, 2019
Mayock then issued a statement to reporters.
“I’ll make it short and sweet,” he said. “Antonio Brown is not in the building today, won’t be practicing. I don’t have any more information for you right now. When I have some and it becomes appropriate you guys will all get it. But that’s it for today.”
Gruden also refused to answer any questions from reporters about the Brown situation.
“He wasn’t here today,” he said. “We have been practicing without him, we’ve been preparing to play no matter …We had to adapt and unfortunately, we had to adapt today, but we are really excited about our receivers corp.”
“We’re still getting to the bottom of everything… I’m out here on the field coaching the guys who are here.”
Brown on Wednesday posted a letter from Mayock on his Instagram story page in which the team informed Brown that he was being fined $13,950 for missing a walk-through on Aug. 22nd and $40,000 for missing Raiders preseason training camp on Aug. 18.
In response, 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.”
There are those around the league who now believe the Raiders could suspend Antonio Brown with the idea of trying to void the $30.125 million of guaranteed money in his contract.
Which obviously would end his time in Oakland.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 5, 2019
Brown had 686 catches and 9,145 yards receiving the past six seasons in Pittsburgh, the best marks ever for a receiver in a six-year span. But he still wore out his welcome with the Steelers after leaving the team before a crucial Week 17 game last season, and Oakland was able to acquire him in March for the small price of third- and fifth-round draft picks.
Antonio Brown was unhappy about being fined and had an exchange with #Raiders general manager Mike Mayock on Wednesday. He was held back by a couple of teammates, sources said, and is now facing a team suspension.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 5, 2019
The drama that surrounded Brown in Pittsburgh didn’t stop upon his arrival in Oakland.
The gifted wide receiver was in the headlines for much of the preseason and it had little to do with his play on the field. First, he suffered severely frostbitten feet while undergoing cryotherapy treatment in France, forcing him to start training camp on the non-football injury list.
He was activated on July 28, but immediately became embroiled in a dispute with the NFL and the NFLPA over his helmet. The NFL and NFLPA won’t allow him to use the same Schutt Air Advantage that he has used throughout his career, it doesn’t not meet the new safety requirements.
Twice he filed a grievance and twice he lost.
Pittsburgh watching Antonio Brown absolutely implode in Oakland pic.twitter.com/9CvcsJAxwl
— Pick Six Podcast (@picksixpod) September 5, 2019
At one point, Mayock issued an “all in or all out” ultimatum.
“You all know that A.B. is not here today,” Mayock said in a video on the team Twitter page. “So here’s the bottom line. He’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that. We appreciate that,” Mayock said. “But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. So we’re hoping he’s back soon. We’ve got 89 guys busting their tails. We are really excited about where this franchise is going and we hope A.B. is going to be a big part of it starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story. No questions.”