Raiders

Raiders

ALAMEDA – The Raiders considered suspending Antonio Brown for conduct detrimental to the team following a Wednesday altercation with general manager Mike Mayock.

Brown called Mayock some unflattering things on the practice field, per sources, using words that can not be repeated on this site, though he denied that in a conversation with ESPN. He was told to stay home from work Thursday, but was back in the Raiders facility Friday morning to mend broken fences.

Brown offered an emotionally-charged apology to the team, some players in the room said, and a few hours later head coach Jon Gruden announced he was back in the fold with a plan to play Monday night against the Denver Broncos.

That’s quite an about-face.

“Antonio is back,” Gruden said. “We’re excited about that and ready to move on. He has had a lot of time to think about things, and we’re really happy to have him back. I know Raider Nation is excited about that, too.”

Some may be surprised by this course of action, which significantly improves odds of beating Denver on Monday night. It’s uncertain if Brown will be fined in time – that may stay private if he is – but Brown essentially comes away free and clear after dressing down the general manager in a relatively public space.

 

The decision actually does Brown a great service. Playing him Monday against Denver, or at least keeping him on the 53-man roster while inactive, would fully guarantee his $14.625 million base salary. Had the Raiders suspended him, the could’ve kept the door open to take all of the $29 million guaranteed over three years due to misconduct. They still could take guarantees in subsequent seasons, but they would have to show future misconduct and suspensions without pay in order to do that, and only if Brown makes future mistakes.

A cynic might say Brown earned some money Friday, and some understanding that superstar treatment is as real here as it reportedly was in Pittsburgh.

The Raiders want to win, and Brown undoubtedly helps them do that. He is, after all, their best player by a country mile. Suspending him to start the season or severing ties – that was a nuclear option, to be sure – would’ve hurt the 2019 product in similar ways to the eve of last season, when Khalil Mack was traded at the 11th hour.

It starts the season on a sour note, with a brutal beginning to the schedule that could send the Raiders spiraling out of control even under normal circumstances. But...one big-time Antonio Brown play would change the taste in everyone's mouth. 

Also, where is Mayock stand in all of this? He was the one confronted in this incident, after simply fining a player for unexcused absences. Even if Gruden is obviously in charge of all things Raiders, Mayock holds a high rank in this organization.

Soldiers should always salute a general.

Right now, it looks like the Raiders have let insubordination stand. Does this alter Mayock's influence in the locker room? Brown could go the extra mile to apologize to Mayock in public and put him back in proper esteem, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen after a short public apology where Mayock (or anyone else) was not mentioned by name. 

Mayock has played the bad cop in trying to corral Brown through issues with his feet and helmet, issuing a stern “all-in, all-out” ultimatum on Aug. 18 that brought Brown back to the fray for a little while at least.

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It must be noted that we still don’t know if some punishment will come from this incident, either from a larger fine or him missing part of Monday's game.

We also don’t know what Brown will do next. He needs to continue mending fences, take responsibility for what transpired Wednesday and avoid similar incidents in the future to calm waters and bring the focus back to football for the first time since he arrived in Napa on a hot-air balloon.