Gruden: Plan is for Brown to play in season opener

Field Level Media

September 06, 2019 at 6:31 pm.

Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden announced Friday that Antonio Brown is expected to play in the team’s season opener against the Denver Broncos, mere hours after the wide receiver reportedly issued an apology.

Gruden’s comments are the latest in a whirlwind saga surrounding Brown, who approached Raiders general manager Mike Mayock while he was watching practice to initiate an exchange that led to the men being physically separated on Wednesday, ESPN and NFL Network reported.

According to ESPN, Brown was flanked by the team’s captains on Friday morning when he opened a team meeting with his “emotional apology.”

“That’s the plan,” Gruden told reporters of Brown’s expected participation for the season opener.

“Antonio’s back today. We’re really excited about that. Ready to move on. He’s had a lot of time to think about things. We’re happy to have him back and I know Raider Nation is excited about that too,” Gruden said.

Brown, 31, initially had been expected to be suspended by the Raiders for conduct detrimental to the team and miss at least the Week 1 game, with $30 million in guaranteed money also on the line should the Raiders opt to take a hard-line position in the matter.

There has been plenty of drama around Brown since he was acquired from the Steelers in March and signed to a contract extension.

Per ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Brown confronted Mayock on Wednesday over being fined almost $54,000 and called Mayock a “cracker” and addressed him with a number of “cuss words” during the altercation. Anderson reported Mayock began to walk away because he felt the situation would escalate.

Gruden did not take a side in the matter Thursday and appeared truly conflicted despite a pattern of behavior from Brown that would seem to indicate a lack of dedication to the Raiders.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said prior to Gruden’s announcement that the wideout was hoping to play in the season opener.

“Right now I think his relationship with Coach Gruden is good, very good,” Rosenhaus said. “I’m not going to get into his relationship with Mike Mayock, but I will say that we’re hopeful that that will be a good one, as well. It has been in the past; it can be in the future.”

Brown also missed time due to a frostbite-like condition on his feet, an incident Gruden said wasn’t Brown’s fault but stemmed from improper protection on his feet during cryotherapy.

Then he sat out during a dispute with the NFL over his helmet, returning only after losing two grievances.