Last week we posted a timeline of Antonio Brown’s drama-filled tenure in Oakland, a stint that ended prematurely when the Raiders released the 31-year-old wide receiver Saturday. We now have some details from a person in Brown’s camp that helps us piece together what happened in the days leading up to Brown’s release and, soon after, agreement to sign with the Patriots as a free agent.
Alejandro Narciso of SDLN Creative, the man who produced the video Brown posted on YouTube last Friday, appeared on the “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” on Monday to provide his account of what he described as a “roller-coaster type of wave.”
Many are operating under the speculation that Brown essentially forced his way out of Oakland using a series of insubordinate social media posts to facilitate a divorce. Some are taking it a step further and suggesting Brown wanted to end up in New England all along, especially after the Steelers reportedly refused to trade him to the Patriots months ago.
Narciso’s account of the saga does not necessarily dispel those theories, because there’s a chance he was nothing more than a passenger on this journey Brown had secretly planned. But the detail he provided on the ESPN Radio show suggests Brown truly was ready to play for Oakland until the last straw that was a fine that, Narciso says, voided the wide receiver’s guarantees on his three-year contract.
Below is a new timeline of the days leading up to Browns release, pieced together using both media reports and Narciso’s account. It’s worth noting that Narciso is indeed part of Brown’s camp and is unlikely to say anything that would shed a negative light on the wide receiver or his actions, but his explanation falls in line with what was reported.
Tuesday, Sept. 3
According to Narciso, this was the day he arrived in Oakland to film the video that eventually was posted Friday. The video, though, originally was supposed to be “a cool ‘Monday Night Football’ video” ahead of Brown’s Raiders debut. Narciso said the video was his idea, not AB’s.
“I’m used to making hype videos for people,” Narciso told Le Batard, “I tell him, ‘I want to go into the stadium with you in pads. I think that’d be cool.’ And we go and they don’t even have the lights on, but we shoot him anyway, and I was like, ‘OK cool, this is cinematic.’
“He goes to practice (the next day), and then everything’s bad. At that point I’m confused. I’m like, ‘Alright, what did I get myself into?'”
Wednesday, Sept. 4
At 1:58 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Brown posted on Instagram the letter Raiders general manager Mike Mayock sent to inform him of a $13,950 fine for missing practice on Aug. 22. It’s unclear when Brown received the letter before he posted the photo.
After practice that day, Brown reportedly initiated a verbal altercation with Mayock as a result of the letter. ESPN, citing a source, reported Brown called Mayock a “cracker,” and NFL Network reported Brown told Mayock he would hit him in the face. Narciso said the Mayock altercation “never really happened like that.” Brown denied it, too, telling ESPN he spoke with Mayock “man-to-man.”
That night, according to Narciso, Brown had dinner with Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
“(Brown) got back into the car, we picked him up, and he was like, ‘Yeah, everything’s good,'” Narciso said. “And I’m like, ‘OK.’ So I started working on the video.”
Thursday, Sept. 5
Narciso said he worked on the video all night. At around 5 a.m. local time Thursday, Brown woke up, and Narciso showed him what he had made. “He’s like, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful, that’s motivational, I love it.’ And I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s post it.’
“And he’s like, ‘Hm, no, let’s wait.'”
Later that morning, multiple reports claimed Brown was facing a Raiders-imposed suspension as a result of his exchange with Mayock. Narciso said “everything (seemed) to be good” when Brown was dropped off at the team facility that day, but that Brown upon his arrival was told not to go to practice.
Speaking with reporters, Mayock said “Antonio Brown’s not in the building today” before refusing to take further questions. Later that day, Brown unfollowed the team on Instagram. That night, Browns agent Drew Rosenhaus spoke with media and claimed he was working to repair the relationship between Brown and the Raiders.
Friday, Sept. 6
Brown returned to the team Friday and reportedly “issued an emotional apology” to his teammates during a team meeting. “Antonio is back today. We’re really excited about that,” Gruden told reporters. Added Brown during a brief talk with media: “I’m excited to be out here with my team. I apologized to my teammates, the organization. Enough talk. I’ve decided to be out here with my teammates, grateful for all the fans.”
According to Narciso, though, Brown didn’t actually appreciate what others viewed as acceptance.
“He has that meeting with the team, and everyone’s like, ‘Welcome back, welcome back. We’re glad to have AB back,” Narciso said. “And he’s like, ‘What are you talking about? I never left. You guys told me not to go to practice yesterday.'”
That night, ESPN reported the Raiders had fined Brown an unspecified amount as a result of the conflict with Mayock. Based on his conversations with Brown, Narciso was led to believe that fine voided the receiver’s contract. (A later ESPN report confirmed that the fine indeed voided the guarantees on Brown’s deal.)
“At that point it was pretty much over,” Narciso said, “because he felt so disrespected that now he had to play essentially week to week for his contract. He’d call the coaches and general manager and owners and he’d be like, ‘So you guys keep saying that you have my back yet now I see news that I called Mike Mayock a cracker. And now you guys voided my contract, so I’m week to week. So exactly how do you have my back?’
“At that point it was irreparable. So he asked me, ‘Yo, the video you made is amazing, but it’s too positive right now.’ So the initial video that I made, I had to change it up.”
According to Narciso, Brown then called “the owner,” presumably Mark Davis, and asked for his release. The team owner obliged, per Narciso, saying he was sorry things didn’t work out.
“At that point AB was like, ‘Alright, it’s go time,’ Narciso said. “So he posted it.”
Immediately after Brown posted the video, Narciso said, he was bombarded with warnings that his usage of a recorded phone conversation Brown had with Gruden was illegal since he did not get Gruden’s consent to include it in the video. Narciso said he was in the process of removing the Gruden sound when he asked Brown to send the video to the coach. “We can get consent that way,” Narciso figured.
According to Narciso, to his surprise, Gruden responded about 15 minutes later with three texts: “Wow, I love it.” “Loved it.” “I love it.”
The next morning, Brown expressed his desire to be released publicly on Instagram. A couple hours later, the team announced it had done just that.
So there you have it.
Even with Narciso’s account adding to what had been reported, questions remain. For example, after Brown allegedly had a positive chat over dinner with Gruden on Wednesday night, why was he still so reluctant to post the hype video?
Narciso’s story — again, an account coming from a person in Brown’s camp — makes it seem as though the last straws for Brown were the team’s treatment of him upon his return to the facility Friday and the fines he was issued that night. However, an ESPN report Sunday claimed Brown “sought out advice from social media consultants” on how to accelerate his release from the Raiders, an effort that, according to the report, began before he posted the photo of Mayock’s letter.
There lies the contradiction between the reports and Narciso’s story, and it’s why some believe Brown knew what he was doing all along.
If he did, he fooled everyone, including his video editor.