Antonio Brown accused of threatening to pull gun on arena team players
Antonio Brown purchased a majority ownership stake in a National Arena League team earlier this year and managed to quickly run the team into the ground. He apparently had some tense spats with players along the way.
ESPN’s Anthony Olivieri and Michael A. Fletcher published a lengthy story last week examining Brown’s short and unsuccessful tenure as the owner of the Albany Empire. Several former players, coaches and employees shared details of a disastrous few months under Brown. Many former Empire players are still owed money, and an attorney is preparing lawsuits on their behalf.
Two former players, wide receivers Darius Prince and Dwayne Hollis, described an incident in which they say Brown threatened to pull a gun on them.
Prince and Hollis told ESPN that they and some teammates requested during training camp that the Empire post a birthday tribute to Mo Ruffins, a former Empire offensive lineman who died last year at age 38. Ben Nelson, who was in charge of social media for the Empire, shared a tribute to Ruffins, but it was quickly deleted.
“People were a little frustrated because these guys were close to [Mo],” Hollis said.
Hollis, Prince and one other player wanted Brown to know how they felt about the tribute being deleted, so they went to see the former NFL star at a local cigar lounge. Hollis said he and his teammates simply wanted to “give our views about how that’s wrong,” but the conversation quickly took a hostile turn.
Hollis and Prince said Brown, who was at the lounge with local sneaker entrepreneur and Empire front office executive Ryan Larkin, threatened to pull a gun on the players.
“AB looked at Ryan and was like, ‘Hey, man, you still got the AR in the car? Go get it,'” Prince said. “Then I was like, I’m not going to allow this dude to walk out of here after you just threatened us. … After he said that, things did calm down and we had a conversation. But the fact is that he threatened us by telling his assistant to grab his AR.”
Allegations of erratic behavior are nothing new for Brown. That is why most people thought it would be a terrible idea for him to own a professional sports team, and Brown wound up getting the team kicked out of the league. Anyone who was surprised by the outcome has not followed the former receiver in recent years.