The bizarre sequence of events leading up to Antonio Brown’s release from the Oakland Raiders and his subsequent signing with the New England Patriots has left some onlookers questioning the wide receiver’s motives.
Count Jerry Rice among them.
The Hall of Famer and former San Francisco 49ers great said Monday he felt deceived by Brown and that he believed the four-time all-pro wanted to end up with the Patriots since his relationship fractured with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of last season.
“We all got played, man. We did,” Rice told 95.7 The Game in San Francsico.
“I’m gonna be honest with you, because, this guy, he contacted me and he told me that he wanted to play ball here in the Bay Area. He wanted to be part of the San Francisco 49ers,” Rice continued. “So, I bought into it because I can only take a man at his word and stuff like that. But I think this, it was pretty much already planned. He had to take a different direction.”
[email protected] says “we all got played” in the AB situation pic.twitter.com/51OLRB47h9
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) September 9, 2019
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Brown agreed to terms with the Patriots on Saturday just hours after the Raiders granted his request to be released. His signing only became official Monday, and he was not on hand for New England’s season-opening 33-3 win against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots offered a first-round pick to the Steelers in March, but the Steelers did not want to trade him to a rival. Brown eventually was dealt to the Raiders for third- and fifth-round selections in 2020.
The Raiders opted not to suspend Brown after a confrontation with general manager Mike Mayock stemming from team-issued fines, but he subsequently asked to be released after the team voided more than $29 million in guaranteed money he was to earn as part of his contract.
The decision brought an end to a brief but tumultuous run in which Brown also suffered frostbite during cryotherapy and clashed with the team and NFL over his preference to wear a helmet model no longer certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.
Rice said he believed Brown forced the Raiders’ hand in the move.
“I think when he asked to be released from the Steelers, he wanted to go to the Patriots,” Rice said. “He wanted them to trade him to the Patriots. And there was no way that the Steelers would trade him to a rival. So he had to go a different route. And he decided to come through the Bay Area. And I feel sorry for the fans over in Oakland.
“He was a Denzel Washington and he won the Oscar. He won an Oscar, guys. I’m gonna be honest with you.”
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
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