Antonio Brown on Friday expressed remorse for a series of missteps he made both on and off the field in the past year.
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, the star wide receiver faulted himself for many of the issues that have kept him out of the NFL since September.
“I think I owe the whole NFL an apology and my past behavior,” Brown told Anderson. “I think I could have done a lot of things better.”
Brown spoke two days after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league’s No. 1 concern is Brown’s well-being, not his potential return to the league.
In January alone, Brown was arrested and charged with felony burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief stemming from an incident with a moving truck driver in Hollywood, Florida, and he verbally abused members of the Hollywood Police Department after they responded to a separate domestic disturbance at his home.
“I was pleased to hear that after 140 days that there was some positivity about me because as of late I’ve just been the cancer of the NFL,” Brown said, referencing Goodell’s comments at his state-of-the-league address Wednesday. “The problem child, the guy who gets in trouble, the kind of guy who has the bad narrative about him.”
Asked whether he believed Goodell, Brown told Anderson: “I’ll believe it when we see it.”
Asked whether he needs mental health help, Brown added: “We all need mental help.”
Antonio Brown goes into detail about his recent personal struggles and how they have affected his relationship with his children.
Brown was one of the NFL’s top wide receivers during his nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders last year, but after several off-the-field incidents, he was released before playing a regular-season game.
He then signed with the New England Patriots, but just days into his stint there, his former trainer, Britney Taylor, filed a civil lawsuit in Florida, accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three occasions in 2017 and 2018. When allegations of sexual misconduct from another woman surfaced soon after that, the Patriots released him, and he has been out of football since.
Asked about the allegations, Brown, 31, said he would let the courts “handle that stuff,” but later added that in some cases he has been targeted by women who have accused him of wrongdoing.
“I feel like I never really got in a conflict with no woman,” Brown told Anderson. “I just feel like I’m a target so, anybody can come against me and say anything [that] I have to face. There’s no support, there’s no egos, there’s no rules in it, anyone can come after me for anything. No proof or whatever. ‘He said, she’s saying.’
“The media will run with it, so even if I’m not guilty, I already guilty because they already wrote it, put it on TV and put that in people minds. So for me to have to sit here and hear those the allegations of me is just unfair to me every time.”
The NFL, meanwhile, continues to investigate Brown over the accusations.
The receiver was asked about his meeting with the league in November and what he tried to get across to Goodell.
“That we’re not hiding from anything,” he told Anderson. “We’re here to follow the procedure, whatever protocol to get back on track and play, and that was their procedures and that’s what I followed.”
Brown said he was frustrated by the lack of resolution.
“Yeah, because one thing it does seem like when you’re comparing this to other cases, it does seem like those other cases have been decided upon a lot quicker and this has extended into, we are now days away from the Super Bowl,” he said.
Brown also was asked whether he had concerns about developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain disease caused by repeated head injuries. In a 2016 playoff game, Brown was knocked nearly unconscious by an infamous hit by then-Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
“Nah,” he said, “if I had CTE I wouldn’t be able to have this beautiful gym, I wouldn’t be able to be creative. I wouldn’t be able to communicate. He didn’t hit me that hard. You know, I got up and walked off the field. We won the game. I was all right. You play the game long enough, everyone get hit hard.”