In case you didn't know, former NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown has majority ownership of an National Arena League football team, the Albany Empire. As you'd expect, the team appears to be on a trajectory similar to the end of his NFL career —chaotic, goofy, meme-producing, and downright puzzling.
Brown, alongside his father, AFL legend Eddie Brown, entered the team's ownership group in March 2023.
"Albany, New York. I'm here," Brown said in a social media video. "It's a big announcement in the morning. Stay tuned."
Brown's father, Eddie, played for the Empire in the 1990s and is in the Arena Football Hall of Fame.
"First and foremost, I'm excited and grateful to be a part of the Albany Empire," Brown said in the introductory press conference.
For those interested in the introductory press conference, you can watch it below.
Albany Empire Press Conference - Live Stream https://t.co/d1gECm2El6
— Albany Empire (@thealbanyempir) March 2, 2023
"I grew up here watching my dad be successful and watching this building erupt. For me, to be in a family-oriented city like Albany, being here with my dad and my kids, and just giving the community and players the opportunity to live out their dreams. So for me, it was easy. I'm just excited to be here and excited to bring Albany Empire a 'three-peat' and see the community, and these players live out their dreams," Brown said.
Since Brown has been involved in ownership, it appears that the head coach has changed numerous times, including firing Damon Ware for Tom Menas, wanting to bring back Ware, firing Menas for Rick Porcelli, and then firing Porcelli, we think?
We say we think because competing narratives within the Empire locker room suggest they don't even know who the head coach is.
Inside Antonio Brown's Wild Ownership of the Albany Empire
We're focusing on this team now because Porcelli, the fourth head coach this season, was reportedly fired after just one game, a 49-27 loss to the Fayetteville Mustangs.
"I appreciated the opportunity to go and lead the men for the one game that I did," Porcelli said. "They're a great bunch of guys."
According to Pocelli, Ryan Larkin, who's the "main associate" to Brown, told Porcelli on Monday that he was being demoted, but Porcelli chose to leave and didn't reveal who the next coach was.
However, Porcelli said he'd remain with the team in an advisory role after this.
Well, what does Antonio Brown think of all this? Surely if Larkin is demoting people, he's on board, right?
"He wasn't fired," Antonio Brown said in text messages after the report came out. "Idk (I don't know) where this came from."
Brown then said he wanted Porcelli to remain as the coach.
"Ryan Larkin has no power cutting firing coaches ryan been told take step back Pete has a deal in place that allow him finish whole year!" Brown texted.
"He's a man of grace I love Pete he's the guy," Brown added.
Porcelli revealed he didn't know why he was being demoted. But again, this is the fourth head coaching change this season, including himself, Menas (twice, apparently), and Ware. On top of this, Empire offensive coordinator Ben Bennett was fired after the game this past Saturday.
Speaking of that game on Saturday, Brown was—and we're not making this up—supposed to play in the game.
That's right, Brown said he was going to play for the Empire, but didn't end up doing so. Because of him saying he was going to play, the Empire sold 2,000 more tickets than usual.
Roughly 2,000 more fans than usual bought tickets to see the Albany Empire last night, because Antonio Brown was supposed to be playing. And, of course, he didn't play. https://t.co/yyGCCyE27Q
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2023
According to Brown, he didn't because he couldn't just "roll off the couch" and play, and there were also some issues, supposedly, with passing a physical.
WATCH: After saying all week that he was going to suit up, Antonio Brown in fact, did not. While Brown didn't play, the Empire also fell for the 5th straight game.
Here's my recap below and what AB told me about why he didn't play, including a message to the fans. pic.twitter.com/upzN7eImnt
— AJ Pankowski (@PankowskiAjCBS6) May 28, 2023
Here's the thing, though—because Brown is an owner, those rules don't apply to him. He could very well play if he wanted to.
"Stay tuned, AB's coming," Brown told Rodger Wyland of WNYT. "There's proper procedures you've got to do to play football. 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."
If Brown suits up, it would be his first football action since he played for the Buccaneers in January 2022 when he ran off the field shirtless.
According to Brown, he'll play next week. Yeah, all right, we'll see.
He did take one snap in practice before this past Saturday's game, though.
— Dan Levy (@dlevywnyt) May 25, 2023
Also, before the game he didn't play in, he said Cam Newton would be coming to the team—oh boy.
— Griffin Haas (@Griffin__Haas) May 25, 2023
- Brown became part of the ownership group of the Empire in March 2023 with his dad Eddie.
- The Empire have undergone four head coaching changes this season.
- Porcelli was demoted after one week, opted to leave, then said he'd stay in an advisory role.
- Brown wants Porcelli to remain head coach but fired the offensive coordinator after their 49-27 loss this past Saturday.
- The Empire are in the middle of a five-game losing streak.
- Brown said he'd play this past Saturday; 2,000 more tickets than usual were sold and he didn't play.
- He said you need to pass a physical, but he doesn't need to since he's an owner.
- He said he'll play next week.
- He said Newton would be coming to the team.
- He hasn't played football since January 2022.
Whatever happens with the Empire, Brown, Eddie Brown, Porcelli, Newton, or whoever, we all know it'll be entertaining, at least.
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