Raiders

Antonio Brown's pattern of disturbing behavior shows Raiders made right call

Antonio Brown's pattern of disturbing behavior shows Raiders made right call

With each and every day we get a clearer picture of who Antonio Brown is: An uber-talented receiver who continues to exhibit destructive, harmful and allegedly illegal behavior.

The Raiders knew Brown was troubled when they acquired him -- that much was clear from the way his tenure with the Steelers ended. But the opportunity to acquire talent often overrides logic, so the Raiders, believing Brown would be different in a new environment, traded a third- and a fifth-round draft pick to secure a one-of-a-kind offensive weapon. But a drama-filled summer that included frostbitten feet, two helmet grievances, missed practices, fines, an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock and an illegally recorded phone call with head coach Jon Gruden that later was released on Instagram, culminated in the Raiders releasing Brown at his request and ridding themselves of a headache even the most talented neurosurgeon would be unable to cure. 

Brown's antics with the Raiders have been characterized as juvenile but relatively harmless. However, that is not always the case.

Days after signing with the New England Patriots, Brown's former trainer Britney Taylor filed a lawsuit against Brown alleging the receiver sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions, including "forcibly raping" her. Brown has denied these allegations.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko published a deep dive on Brown's pattern of odd, disturbing behavior that has been ramping up ever since he made the transition from sixth-round draft pick to All-Pro receiver.

Klemko interviewed more than two dozen people who have been associated with Brown -- from former employees of Brown to ex-teammates -- to get the full picture of Brown's troubled history.

Sports Illustrated's report is wide-ranging and deep, going into detail on Brown's pattern of not paying debts, the number of domestic incidents he's been involved in and the deranged behavior he's often exhibited. From things we know about -- the furniture throwing lawsuit and fish head chef incident -- to another report of sexual misconduct, Klemko's reporting paints a picture that shows Brown's antics are more than just social-media fun. Rather, it shows a troubled man with a penchant for disturbing behavior. 

In June 2017, Brown hired a local artist he met at a charity auction to come to his house and paint a mural of him. Per Klemko, Brown paid the woman $1,000 a day and even paid for a van to pick her up in New York and drive her to his Pennsylvania home. The woman, who requested to remain anonymous, told Klemko that Brown was flirtatious with her on Day 1, but things took a turn on Day 2.

“I was about 40% done on the second day, and I’m on my knees painting the bottom, and he walks up to me butt-ass naked, with a hand cloth covering his [penis] and starts having a conversation with me,“ she told Sports Illustrated. "Unfortunately, I’ve been tried [by men] a lot of times, so I just kept my cool and kept painting,” she says. “After that, it all ended abruptly.”

Brown paid her the $2,000 but then "ghosted" her, per Klemko. He also never paid the charity the $700 for the initial painting he purchased at the auction.

Not paying his debts is somewhat of a pattern for Brown, it appears. He is being sued by a Pennsylvania doctor for $11,500 for services he never paid for. Sean Pena, a California speed trainer, currently is suing Brown for $7,200 in unpaid wages in Alameda Country Court, per Klemko. Robert Leo, a car detailer who acted as Brown's personal valet in Pennsylvania, is suiting the receiver for $16,000 in expenses he covered on his own credit card that Brown never reimbursed him for. There's Jeff Leung of Aqua World Pet Super Center who is contemplating suing Brown for $2,000 he never paid when Leung installed a 220-gallon tank in Brown's residence and filled it with a piranha. The piranha died because Brown failed to clean the tank.

Then there's the odd behavior, like a 2018 incident when Brown called the police to his Florida reporting his Rolls Royce had been stolen. Per the report obtained by Klemko, that wasn't the case.

Via the police report:

“We [two police officers] knocked on the door several times before a male voice responded, “who is it?” I identified myself and a black male [later identified as Brown] opened the door. When I said hello, [Brown] said ‘I found the car’ and closed the door.”

Brown had a rough upbringing, often sleeping on the couches of teammates and coaches after his stepfather kicked him out of the house. Once he rose to superstar status with the Steelers, he started to take on a "you don't know what I've overcome" mindset, which would have become a problem in Pittsburgh had it not been for Mike Tomlin.

“Antonio’s thing is that when he gets upset he’ll say to a coach, ‘You don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know where I’m from,’” a former Steelers teammate told Sports Illustrated. “But Tomlin is a black dude who went from William & Mary to becoming an NFL head coach. He knows that struggle. And he could say, Yes I do know where you’re coming from.”

Tomlin helped keep things on track with Brown in Pittsburgh, allowing him to blossom into the star he is today. Brown was mentored by his high school coaches -- coach Brooks and coach James Upton -- and Butch Jones at Central Michigan, but Klemko reports Brown no longer is in contact with those who he used to rely on.

[RELATED: AB avoids media, still hasn't discussed Raiders exit]

Brown's talent is undeniable. But the concerning pattern of behavior exhibited over the past few years and fully fleshed out by Klemko's reporting, show the Raiders made the right choice in cutting him loose when he demanded his release following his wild offseason.

Tomlin was able to keep things in house and keep Brown happy for most of his time in Pittsburgh. Gruden and Mayock did everything they could to foster a good relationship with Brown, one they thought would be beneficial to both the team and player.

But the episodes kept coming, and it doesn't look like they'll stop just because Brown now resides at 1 Patriot Place.

Losing top talent never is easy, but the Raiders made the right move to extract a headache that showed no signs of getting better in Oakland, and likely will fester in New England sooner or later.

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Ex-Bucs claim Barrett Robbins' absence just excuse for Raiders' loss

Ex-Bucs claim Barrett Robbins' absence just excuse for Raiders' loss

Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, shines a fresh light on some of the most unforgettable moments in sports. The fifth episode tells the story of "The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl," chronicling Barret Robbins' absence from Super Bowl XXXVII.

A number of factors went into the Raiders' demoralizing defeat at the hands of Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. The story behind the mysterious disappearance of Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins is revealed in NBC Sports' latest Sports Uncovered podcast, which was released Thursday.

Robbins missing the biggest game of his life no doubt played a role in the 48-21 thrashing the Raiders suffered. As did coach Bill Callahan's puzzling decision to alter the game plan at the last minute. But some Raiders believe Gruden and the Bucs knew their plays and formations, making the rout all but a certainty, blaming Callahan for giving the game to his former boss.

To a few former Buccaneers, though, all of that is just a bunch of excuses.

"The fact that your center went to Tijuana and got lost, and all of a sudden, um, he's not the quarterback," said Booger McFarland, who was a defensive tackle for the Bucs. "He's not the star wideout. He's not the star defensive player. He's the center."

"I've seen [Bill] Romanowski at a couple different events," Shelton Quarles said. "I've seen Rich [Gannon] at a couple of different events. And we've had conversations, and they're like, 'Oh, well you guys got lucky because Barret Robbins was out. We had a backup center, and our game plan was to run the ball down your throat.' OK, well, then just run your game plan. If that's something you practiced all week then run that."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

As for the charge that Gruden and the Bucs knew the Raiders' plays, Tampa Bay had seen the scheme before. Every day.

"It's the same offense that Jon Gruden ran when he was there," McFarland said. "So, we practiced against the same offense for a year. So, if you're not going to change any of the same audibles that Gruden uses in Tampa, then that's on you."

In the end, Robbins' absence didn't play a huge role in the Bucs' romp. Gruden and the Buccaneers were ready for anything and everything the Raiders were going to throw at them, and Callahan was outmatched from the opening kick-off.

The Raiders approached the matchup as if they had already won the Super Bowl. Owning the league's No. 1 offense and facing a Bucs team no one expected to be there, some members of the Silver and Black were ready for the parade.

"I was like, 's--t, I'm about to get my second ring,'" defensive tackle Sam Adams said. "We about to drag these jokers. They ain't doing nothing against us. Nothing. We about to whoop these jokers."

But once Callahan made the last-minute game plan switch, Tim Brown and the rest of the Raiders entered Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego knowing they weren't bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.

"We go into the Super Bowl knowing that we don't have a chance to win," Brown said.

[RELATED: How Davis told Trask of Robbins' Super Bowl disappearance]

The Raiders' defeat at the hands of Gruden and the Bucs can be laid at the feet of many people.

Barret Robbins was an easy scapegoat at the time. The center went out and partied too hard and missed the game, so it's his fault. Years later we know better. The Raiders knew better in the moment.

Even if he had suited up, the Bucs were prepared to slow down Callahan's offensive attack. Almost like they knew what was coming.

How Raiders' Al Davis told Amy Trask of Barret Robbins' Super Bowl absence

How Raiders' Al Davis told Amy Trask of Barret Robbins' Super Bowl absence

Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, shines a fresh light on some of the most unforgettable moments in sports. The fifth episode tells the story of "The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl," chronicling Barret Robbins' absence from Super Bowl XXXVII.

Amy Trask had a conversation with Barret Robbins on the morning of Super Bowl XXXVII. The brief exchange between the then-Raiders CEO and Pro Bowl center didn’t raise any red flags.

A phone call with owner Al Davis a short while later, however, indicated that something was very wrong.

“Quite early that morning, I had gone out on a run and saw Barret in the lobby,” Trask said. “I ran into him, went up to my room and not long thereafter, Al called me and said, ‘Barrett’s not playing.' I said, ‘I just saw him in the lobby. He can play. I just had a conversation with him. He can play.’ And Al shared with me that others had made the decision to send Barret home. I hung up the phone, looked at my husband and I said, ‘We just lost the game.’ ”

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The Raiders ended up getting trounced by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that night at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, and losing their top-notch center just before the game didn’t help. The distraction of Robbins' disappearance the night before, while on a bender that carried from Friday through Saturday evening, certainly didn’t help.

Neither did the fact that coach Bill Callahan changed the game plan at the last minute, or that Jon Gruden was on the other sideline and used his knowledge of the Raiders’ scheme and personnel against the team that traded him to Tampa Bay during the 2002 offseason.

All of those topics are discussed during Thursday’s episode of NBC’s “Sports Uncovered” documentary podcast, which delves deep into Robbins’ sudden disappearance and the root causes of it, exploring the role his mental health played in that period and over his entire life.

Robbins admitted that he wouldn’t have been able to play in the game. He was not mentally able to do so after a night of partying and a mental-health episode that put him in a bad state. The Raiders evaluated Robbins after he returned to the team hotel Saturday evening and decided he wasn’t able to play.

Team doctors concluded that he wasn’t in a proper mental state to play in the biggest game of his life.

“On [Sunday] morning, I woke up and stretched and walked with Willie Brown and saw the doctors and everything,” Robbins said in an archived interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa. “And, if they would have told me I could have played, I don’t know if I could’ve at that point. To be honest with you, I was sick.”

The Raiders sent him away and checked him into the Betty Ford Clinic in Riverside. It was only there, for the first time in his life, that Robbins was accurately diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He wasn’t properly treated for the condition before then, which led to problems off the field with substances of abuse.

Robbins was transported to a hospital on Sunday and barely watched any of the game.

“I saw a couple of plays on TV,” Robbins said. “They were watching it when I got there, but I didn’t sit up and watch it. I was there while I was, you know, on suicide watch. … It was a bad situation, obviously, and to recover from that, I don’t know if I have.”

[RELATED: The real reason why Barret Robbins missed Super Bowl XXXVII]

The Raiders haven’t gotten over that loss, either. It ended a short but dominant run and ushered in an era of futility unlike any in Raiders history. The Raiders have made the postseason only once since losing the Super Bowl.

The loss was difficult for those heavily invested in it. Among others, Trask took it particularly hard.

“When we lost, I cried myself to sleep that night wearing the same clothes I wore to the game,” Trask said. “I put my head on my husband’s shoulders and cried myself to sleep. But I never, ever lost sight of the fact that Barret Robbins is a human being. As badly as I felt, and as miserable as I was, and as hurt as our fans were and our organization was, I can only imagine Barret’s pain.”