The first major Antonio Brown scandal took place in the Steelers locker room after the team’s 18-16 playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in January 2017, where he posted a clip of Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin using an expletive while talking about the Patriots, Pittsburgh’s next playoff opponent. He did this even after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told him to calm down on his social media accounts. Brown’s actions were against both team policy and league policy. Additionally, following the video, in a press conference, Mike Tomlin called Brown’s actions “foolish,” “selfish,” and “inconsiderate.”
Then, in 2018, Steelers second-year wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster had a breakout season. He finished the year with 111 receptions, 1,426 yards, and 5 touchdowns, compared to Brown’s 104 receptions, 1,297 yards, and 15 touchdowns. Smith-Schuster’s statistics demonstrated that he near on Brown’s level. This competition came to a headway after Smith-Schuster won the 2018 Team MVP award and Brown called him out over social media. The caption read, “Emotion: boy fumbled the whole post season in the biggest game of year [sic]! Everyone went blind to [sic] busy making guys famous not enough reality these days.”
Additionally, in December 2018, the Steelers faced off against the New Orleans Saints in a critical Week 16 game with playoff implications. Brown had an incredible game with 14 receptions for 185 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, but the Steelers ended up losing following a critical fumble by Smith-Schuster. Despite the loss, Brown was all smiles after the game as he posed for photos with Saints receiver Michael Thomas and even swapped jerseys. Brown didn’t mind his team losing its biggest game of the season because he had such a strong individual performance, another example of his selfish nature.
This game would be the last Brown would ever play in a Steelers uniform. In the week following the loss, Brown got into a heated dispute with Roethlisberger during a Wednesday practice, threw a ball at him, then left. He then skipped all practices until the team’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh benched him for the entire game for his absences. After the season, in February 2019, Brown went on social media and said that it was time to “Move on and move forward.” With this, the Steelers decided to trade Brown to the Oakland Raiders
Brown arrived at the 2019 Raiders training camp in a hot air balloon, despite not being able to play due to frostbite on his feet sustained by using incorrect footwear during cryotherapy. He proceeded to constantly skip practices even when he was healthy, mainly due to a dispute with the NFL over what helmet he was allowed to wear in games. Brown’s arrival resembled his time with the Raiders in a nutshell—dramatic and unproductive.
Then, things got even worse when Brown got into an altercation with Raiders general manager Mike Maycock and posted private photos of letters from the Raiders outlining fines he received. He most definitely was not concerned about the trouble he caused anyone else because of his narcissism.
The next morning, he posted a quote on his Instagram that read, “You are gonna [expletive] a lot of people off when you start doing what’s best for you.” and wrote as a comment “Release me @raiders.” Later that day, he got his wish—the team released him.
The Patriots proceeded to sign Brown, similar to the way they’d signed receivers with troubled pasts such as Randy Moss and Josh Gordon. But Brown was only able to play one game for the Patriots. After being accused of sexual assault by multiple women and consequently sending threatening messages to one of his accusers, the Patriots decided to release him just 11 days after officially signing him.
Brown derailed his once admired career and turned himself into a complete embarrassment. There is no one to blame for this series of events besides him. He took to Twitter to officially announce that his NFL career is over and blamed it on NFL owners not giving him his guaranteed money after he only hurt their organizations. Brown will now be fighting legal battles in order to get paid according to his previous contract. His catchphrase, “Boomin,” once described his career. But now, his business is definitely not “Boomin.”