National Football League

Gruden on AB’s exit: We ‘exhausted everything’



The Oakland Raiders have announced they’ve released Antonio Brown, making the wide receiver eligible to sign with any team at 4:01 p.m. ET Saturday.

“We just have exhausted everything. We tried every way possible to make it work,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “And all I’m going to say, is that it is disappointing. I’m really proud of our players, our coaches, our owner, our front office. We did everything we could to make this work. I’m sorry it didn’t. I apologize, but I will tell you that I am very proud of what we did as an organization to try. And I wish Antonio nothing but the best. And I’m sorry we never got a chance to see Antonio in the Silver & Black.” Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is trying to find the wide receiver’s next home. “Now that Antonio is a free agent, we are focused on the future and I will immediately work on signing him to a new team,” Rosenhaus said in a statement. “Antonio is looking forward to a new beginning.” The move comes after Brown asked to be released by the team in an Instagram post earlier Saturday.

 

Brown told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington in an email Saturday that there is “no way” he plays for the Raiders.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver said that was his stance after the team “took away my [contract] guarantees.” He added: “no way I play after they took that and made my contract week to week.”

The Raiders fined Brown $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team, league sources told Schefter on Saturday.

By fining Brown, the Raiders voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money in his deal, sources told Schefter.

In addition, the Raiders sent Brown a letter stating that he no longer will be entitled to termination pay, sources told Schefter. As a result, Brown would have been playing on a week-to-week basis with both his guaranteed money voided and lack of termination pay.

Though Brown is cleared to sign with any team after 4 p.m. Saturday, he’s not eligible to play until Week 2 at the earliest.

“I tell you, he’s a good guy,” Gruden said. “He’s misunderstood by a lot of people. He’s a good guy. He’s a great player and I hope he gets what he’s looking for.”

Brown never played a game for Oakland, but was the center of the Raiders’ offseason story.

He spent time away from the team as he attempted to resolve an issue with his helmet, was fined for missing that time, got into a verbal altercation with general manager Mike Mayock over those fines, and was fined for the altercation.

Additionally, Brown on Friday night posted a video on YouTube of a private phone call he had with Gruden.

In the video, which lasted 1 minute, 57 seconds, Brown is heard taking a call from Gruden, who asks the receiver: “What the hell is going on, man?”

Brown answered, “Just a villain all over the news, man.”

Gruden then called Brown “the most misunderstood” person he has met, before asking him: “Do you want to be a Raider or not?”

Brown answered: “Man, I’ve been trying to be a Raider since day one. I’ve been f—ing working my ass off harder than anyone. I don’t know why it’s a question of me being a Raider. It’s like do you guys want me to be a Raider?”

Gruden then asked the receiver to stop the off-the-field stuff and “just play football.”

“How hard is that?” Gruden could be heard saying. “You’re a great football player. Just play football.”

Brown then told his coach it’s not that simple.

“I’m more than just a football player, man,” he said. “I’m a real person. I’m a real person. It ain’t about the football, I know I can do that. I show you guys that on the daily. This is my life. Ain’t no more games.”

It wasn’t immediately clear when the call between Brown and Gruden took place. A Raiders source told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen on Friday night that Gruden was truly amused by the video and even thought it was “awesome.”

Now Gruden has to go forward without the man figured to be the Raiders’ top playmaker.

“Unfortunately this has overshadowed a lot of great performances by young people who put themselves in position to start their career on Monday Night Football.”

ESPN.com

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