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September 13, 2019

Week 1 of the NFL season is officially in the books and the most exciting time of the year is underway. There were storylines aplenty after kicking off the NFL’s 100th season. Spectacular rookie performances, key injuries, and last-second victories should have dominated the headlines. 

Instead, NFL Twitter was abuzz discussing a cringeworthy display on social media by one of the league’s brightest stars, who used social media to get released from his team and sign with a Super Bowl favorite. I’m still shocked as I type that sentence. 

According to reports, former Oakland Raider Antonio Brown allegedly hired social media consultants to ultimately help grant his wish. 

Now, offseason player holdouts are nothing new in the NFL, but we were treated to a whole new iteration of disgruntled player this summer featuring Brown and the Raiders. I’ll never forget thinking the world was ending when TV crews, showed up at Terrell Owens house and filmed him working out on his driveway.  

In those days, player holdouts were reported on TV or in the newspaper. In the case of Brown, social media provided him a tool to produce all the theatrics himself and provided fans with a birds eye view of all the drama. 

It all started with his Instagram post of his frost-bitten feet from a mishap in a Cryotherapy chamber. Gross, but nothing terribly egregious. Then news leaked that Brown was upset about the NFL’s new helmet policy, threatened to retire and held himself out of practice for weeks. After he was issued a letter by General Manager Mike Mayock regarding the fines he incurred over missing practices, Brown posted the letter on social media and caused a media circus. 

The circus culminated in Brown starting a physical altercation with Mayock and posting a professionally produced video centered around a phone conversation he had with Head Coach Jon Gruden. 

Following the release of the video and the fines he accrued, Brown again took to Instagram and pleaded for the Raiders to release him, voiding his $30M guaranteed contract. A result we know Brown wanted because…he posted a video of himself celebrating his eventual release on social media. 

This entire charade has come across and cringeworthy and unprofessional. But you can’t deny the impressive marketing tactics displayed by Brown and his team here. I’m sure he would have preferred that his plan included the $30M in guaranteed money, but he was able to escape from sour situations in Pittsburgh and Oakland. Oh, plus he has the opportunity to play for the greatest coach and with the greatest quarterback of all time with Super Bowl aspirations. 

The situation was so bad, it was actually amazing. But let’s hope this isn’t the new precedent in professional sports. 

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Pat White

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