The Albany Empire, a two-time championship Arena Football team, has suffered a devastating blow with their expulsion from the league, and it can quite literally be attributed to Antonio Brown. As the owner of the team, Brown’s tumultuous leadership, financial troubles and a revolving door of players have led to the team’s downfall.
Brown’s connection to the Arena Football League stems from his father’s involvement in the league, which inspired his own football career. However, his ownership of the Albany Empire started on a horrific note, as the former NFL star was accused of running the organization into the ground. Reports surfaced of violent threats made to the former head coach and players being locked out of their hotel rooms. Brown’s ego overshadowed any efforts to improve the team or help players advance to higher levels. His misconduct extended to using NFL footage illegally for commercials, failing to pay players and coaches, and multiple suspensions and departures of team members, including the MVP of the previous season.
After exhausting all avenues, the Albany Empire failed to meet its league obligations, leading to the official termination of its membership. Essentially, the team has been kicked out of the National Arena Football League. Owning an Arena Football League team requires a net worth of $5 million and $1 million in liquid assets, an annual operating budget of approximately $1 million,and a $20,000 application fee. The Arena Football League has a higher operating cost of $5 million per year and a net worth requirement of $60 million.
Although these figures may seem substantial, they are relatively modest compared to the costs associated with the NFL. The decision to expel the Albany Empire was made during an emergency conference call with league members to address the team’s failure to pay their league assessments, which were long overdue. Each team is responsible for contributing one-seventh of the league’s operating budget through monthly assessments starting in April. Additionally, the Albany Empire owner was fined $1,000 for conduct detrimental to the league due to his recent public comments, a fine that Antonio Brown has adamantly refused to pay. This situation highlights that Antonio Brown is solely responsible for his actions and reactions, reinforcing the fact that being a great player does not automatically translate to being a great manager or coach.
The infamous hit by Vontaze Burfict on Brown stands as one of the most devastating in football history. It ultimately led to the expulsion of an arena team, which did not even exist at the time of the hit. Antonio Brown is undoubtedly not the same person he was before suffering that hit. Mike Tomlin played a significant role in keeping him in line during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s important to note that not everyone who plays sports and experiences concussions becomes an “asshole” due to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). However, it is worth acknowledging that CTE is a progressive condition that tends to worsen over time. Towards the end of Brown’s tenure with the Steelers, it became apparent that the priority was to make him happy, regardless of the consequences or double standards. A similar pattern emerged in Tampa with Bruce Arians, who initially claimed to have a one-strike-you’re-out policy with Brown but eventually gave him multiple chances due to the pursuit of a Lombardi Trophy. While the situation may seem like a joke, two truths remain: Antonio Brown must be held accountable for his actions without excuses or blame-shifting and it should be recognized that he has experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from playing football, which undeniably changed him.
One of the most astonishing aspects for many observers is how swiftly Antonio Brown managed to get his team kicked out of the league—an accomplishment that is far from easy. It is rare to witness a complete team being expelled from a league, especially in the middle of a season. Antonio Brown’s creation of a toxic and hostile workplace that resulted in the loss of their livelihoods is truly heartbreaking for the players, staff and supporters. The situation is deeply unsettling and it is hoped that someone else can step in, purchase the team from Antonio Brown and restore its standing within the Arena Football League (AFL). Brown’s actions have had destructive consequences for anyone who has crossed paths with him, and it is unfortunate for the players who remain on the team, as they bear no responsibility for the team’s plight. Above all, it is essential that Brown receive the help he needs to overcome his challenges.