(CNN)This has been one crazy year for Antonio Brown.
One of the NFL’s top wide receivers is facing a lawsuit accusing him of rape — allegations he denies — just days after he signed with the New England Patriots.How he even got to the Patriots was its own saga. The onetime Pittsburgh Steelers mainstay was traded to the Oakland Raiders in the offseason, setting up a dizzying summer training camp in which fans wondered when he would — or whether he’d ever — take the field again: He’s burned his feet! He’s might retire over a helmet! He’s demanding his release!He never played a down for the Raiders, but so much happened with him over the past few months. We’ll catch you up:The Steelers traded him to Oakland in March …Read MoreBrown’s nine-year tenure with the Steelers ended badly, with the team benching him in the 2018 season’s final game in part because of a dispute with his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.The Steelers decided to unload their seven-time Pro Bowl selection, trading him to the Raiders for third- and fifth-round draft picks in late March. He signed for three years and $54 million, with guaranteed money — and this would be a significant issue later — of more than $30 million, according to the NFL Network…. but he damaged his feet before training campHis time with the Raiders got off a shaky start. Before training camp began, he suffered frostbite on his feet, reportedly during a cryotherapy treatment session in France.So when the Raiders’ training camp started in Napa, California, in late July, he couldn’t participate fully in practice. HBO’s “Hard Knocks” followed the Raiders at camp, probably anticipating it’d catch Brown in some team drills for the first episode. Brown wasn’t fit for that, but he did take a hot-air balloon ride. And he reportedly threatened to quit over his helmetWhile he was recovering from his injury, he was fretting about new NFL helmet guidelines and reportedly threatening to retire because of them.The NFL is banning some older-model helmets this season to improve player safety. Brown still wanted to use one of the prohibited helmets.Brown filed two grievances with the league and lost them both. He didn’t retire, eventually choosing a different helmet.But while trying to get his feet healthy and dealing with the grievances, Brown had spent a lot of time away from training camp. Meanwhile, a chef had sued himBy mid-August, CNN was reporting that a chef in had sued him in Florida for something that allegedly happened last year.Stefano Tedeschi alleged in a lawsuit that he had agreed to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for Brown and others at a Florida rental property during the NFL’s Pro Bowl weekend in January 2018.He alleged Brown wrongfully terminated the contract in the middle of that weekend and would not allow him to retrieve his equipment and leftover food.Tedeschi is seeking $38,521. Brown’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit this month.The Raiders started fining BrownBrown would eventually practice with the Raiders, but he never played in any of the team’s four preseason games.On September 4 — five days before the Raiders’ season opener — Brown let the world know that the Raiders had fined him $40,000 for missing part of training camp and $13,950 for not participating in the Raiders’ walk-through ahead of their August 22 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg, Canada.He did this by posting to Instagram a letter that the team’s general manager, Mike Mayock, had written him.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 4, 2019 Brown and the general manager arguedAccording to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mayock was frustrated that Brown posted the letter. During practice that day, Brown and Mayock got into a nonphysical but heated exchange on the practice field, Rapoport reported.The next day, September 5, Mayock told reporters Brown wouldn’t be practicing. Brown apologized, and the coach said he would playBut the following morning, Friday, September 6, Brown apologized at a team meeting, and he was back at practice.Head coach Jon Gruden even told reporters the team planned to have Brown play Monday night.He posted a phone conversation with his coachLate Friday, Brown posted to YouTube what appears to be a phone conversation with Gruden.The post’s caption says in part, “It’s time for me to control my own narrative. Show the world I’m not the bad guy.”In the audio, Gruden appears to ask: “Do you want to be a Raider or not?” “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?” Brown responds.The Raiders took away his guarantees, and he asked for his releaseIf the Raiders really intended Friday to play Brown in the first game, all of that went out the window by Saturday morning.That’s when it emerged that the Raiders had fined Brown more than $215,000 for his spat with Mayock — and that let the Raiders void the guaranteed money in Brown’s contract, NFL.com reported.Brown wasn’t having that. That morning, he wrote “Release me” in a post on Instagram. View this post on Instagram
And that’s fine ! I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines.Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years. “I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong.” Release me @raiders #NOMore #theyputblindersonahorseforareason #NoMoreFake
The Raiders released him, and the Patriots picked him upAnd the Raiders did just that before the morning ended. No one looked more pleased than Brown, who apparently found out checking out his phone in his kitchen. YouTube video shows him running around his yard in celebration.By late afternoon, he’d signed with the New England Patriots. His one-year deal with New England is worth $15 million and includes a $9 million signing bonus, the NFL Network reported.Brown’s former trainer accused him of rapeBrown wasn’t eligible for the Patriots’ first game Sunday, which happened to be against his old team, Pittsburgh.The Raiders, who never saw Brown play in a game for them, would win their season opener Monday night.Tuesday, a woman who used to train Brown accused him of rape in a federal lawsuit filed in Florida. He denies the accusations, according to his attorney.