Antonio Brown drew headlines recently (how surprising) when he revealed that he’s planning his return to professional football.
Of course, most (if not all) pro teams would be hesitant to bring Brown into their locker rooms. After all, he didn’t exactly leave the NFL on the best terms.
There’s one team where Brown assuredly does have a ready-made roster spot waiting for him: his own. Brown owns the National Arena League’s Albany Empire and is reportedly planning on suiting up for their next home game.
Antonio Brown Playing in the Arena Football League
Brown had eyes on playing this past Saturday, May 27, but ultimately said he couldn’t because his physical paperwork did not come through on time. But he assured NewsChannel 13’s Roger Wyland that he’d be suited up for the Empire sooner than later.
“Stay tuned, AB’s coming. There’s proper procedures you’ve got to do to play football,” Brown told NewsChannel 13. “You’ve got to pass the coach, the commissioner. You’ve got to be in physical condition. You can’t just pop up, so I’ve got to get my feet wet. We’ve got to get the proper equipment. We’ve got to do the right thing.”
“But I am going to be playing. You didn’t lie. Everything is going to fall in place,” he added.
4,500 fans showed up to Saturday’s Empire game in hopes of seeing Brown retake the field. That’s nearly double their typical average attendance of 2,500. Say what you will, but Antonio Brown is showing some business savvy by letting the anticipation build.
If he happens to pull off the next special guest he’s clamoring for, the Empire might triple or even quadruple their attendance.
AB Recruiting Former NFL MVP, Cam Newton
Brown took to Twitter recently to lobby for long-time Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to join him for a game with the Empire. He offered Newton $150,000 for a one-off appearance.
That’s not a bad game check. Especially considering the average NAL player makes around $200 per game.
Of course, Newton isn’t the average arena league player. The 2015 NFL MVP accounted for 269 touchdowns in his career (194 passing, 75 rushing) and is second to only Michael Vick for all-time rushing yards gained by a quarterback.
Newton and Brown made a combined 10 Pro Bowls in their careers. Both are just 34 years old and only a single year removed from football at its highest level. Arena games are like track meets, to begin with, and Brown and Newton going even half-speed would still probably threaten 100 points on the scoreboard in that setting.
But that, of course, is dependent on whether or not Newton accepts the invitation. The money is enticing, but Newton banked well over $100 million in his career, according to Spotrac. We also know that Newton’s interested in playing again, per CBS Sports. He could view playing in this game as a needless injury risk.
Or he could view it as a chance to put himself on tape, have a little fun, and make a little cash (relatively speaking). The football-loving people of Albany are certainly hoping he leans that way.