UPDATE: Brown was released by Oakland on Saturday and quickly signed by the New England Patriots
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown will avoid suspension after allegedly calling his general manager Mike Mayock, who is white, a “cracker” during a heated confrontation on Wednesday.
As noted by SFGate, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Thursday that a heated Brown engaged Mayock in a “screaming match” and threatened the GM with violence in the midst of a Wednesday practice over a $14,000 fine for missing a team walk through on August 22.
“After a screaming match, Brown told Mayock that he would hit him in the face and then punted the ball… and said, Fine me for that,” Rapoport tweeted.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson further elaborated:
“A Raiders source confirmed Brown was unhappy with the fine levied by the team and, seeing Mayock watching practice, walked over and initiated an exchange with the GM. The Raiders source confirmed information from another league source who said Brown called Mayock a ‘cracker’ and unleashed a barrage of ‘cuss words’ during the altercation.”
A source told Anderson, “[Mayock] was like, ‘I’m cool, I understand your displeasure.’ [Mayock] sort of just like … just walked away because he saw it escalate.”
Brown posted the letter informing him of the fine to his Instagram story on Wednesday before the confrontation. The wide receiver essentially mocked management for being unable to “stop” him, even with transgressions, because of his talent. “When you own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now,” text overlapping the fine letter read.
Anderson said Friday that a source told her Brown “issued ‘an emotional apology’ at a team meeting [Friday] morning, just now, ‘with team captains standing with him.'”
The receiver addressed reporters on Friday, too. “I’m excited to be out here today,” Brown said, according to SFGate. “I want to apologize to my teammates, organization. I’m excited to be out here with my teammates. I’m grateful for all my fans and I’m excited to be apart of the Raiders and see you guys soon.”
Brown denied using the term “cracker” to ESPN reporter Dianna Russini on Friday afternoon, however. “Antonio Brown told me there was never a scuffle at practice. He said he did not use the word ‘cracker’ and would never use that word…Everything has been blown out of proportion. ‘I spoke with Mike Mayock 1-on-1, man-to-man,'” Russini posted to Twitter.
Discussing the controversy on Thursday, Coach Jon Gruden promised a forthcoming statement. “Like I said, I’m not going to get into all of this,” Gruden told the press. “Obviously, [Brown] wasn’t here today, and when we have some information for you, we’ll give it to you. … I’ve been talking about the same guy every day.”
“I’m emotional about it, I hope you understand why. I think a lot of this guy. I think Antonio is a great receiver, and deep down I think he’s a really good guy. So, I’m frustrated, I’m not going to say anything more about it, hope it all works out. But I don’t have anything official to say about anything else until I get all the facts, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he added.