ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden said star receiver Antonio Brown is back with the team and is expected to play the season opener after a run-in with general manager Mike Mayock had put him in jeopardy of being suspended.
Gruden spoke briefly at the beginning of practice Friday and said the plan is for Brown to play Monday night at home against Denver.
”Antonio is back today,” Gruden said. “We’re really excited about that and ready to move on. He’s had a lot of, obviously, time to think about things and we’re happy to have him back and I know Raider Nation is excited about that, too.”
Brown was sent home from the facility on Thursday after a confrontation the previous day at practice with Mayock. Brown had posted a letter earlier Wednesday from Mayock detailing nearly $54,000 in fines for missing a practice and walkthrough.
ESPN reported that the Raiders were planning to suspend Brown over the incident. Teams have the right under the collective bargaining agreement to suspend players up to four games for conduct detrimental to the team. A suspension would also void the more than $29 million in guarantees over the next two seasons contained in Brown’s contract with the Raiders.
But Brown was back with the team a day later even though he was not on the practice field during the portion open to the media.
This was just the latest development in a dramatic first season in Oakland for Brown, who has yet to step on the field for a game with his new team.
The Raiders acquired the game’s most prolific receiver after he wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh. Oakland gave up only a third- and fifth-round pick for the four-time All-Pro receiver and gave him a hefty raise with a new three-year contract worth $50.125 million.
But Brown was unable to practice at the start of training camp after getting frost bite on his feet during a cryotherapy accident in France.
Brown was activated July 28 and took part in one walkthrough and part of one practice before leaving the team to get treatment for his feet and to fight the NFL and the NFLPA over his helmet.
Brown lost two grievances with the league in his attempt to use an old helmet now banned for safety reasons. He skipped practice on Aug. 18, prompting Mayock to issue an ultimatum for Brown to be “all in or all out” and also to hand him a $40,000 fine.
Brown returned to the team the following day but then missed a mandatory walkthrough before an exhibition game in Winnipeg on Aug. 22, leading to a second fine of $13,950.
Brown publicized those fines on his Instagram account this week. Brown also wrote on the account: “WHEN YOUR OWN TEAM WANT TO HATE BUT THERE’S NO STOPPING ME NOW DEVIL IS A LIE. EVERYONE GOT TO PAY THIS YEAR SO WE CLEAR.”
Brown had several issues in Pittsburgh as well, leading to the team’s decision to trade him even though he topped 100 receptions and 1,200 yards receiving in each of the past six seasons.