Former NFL WR Antonio Brown is the owner of the Albany Empire, a Arena League football team, is mired in controversy of allegedly missed payments to players and coaches, and some of its best players have been suspended, per a report from the Albany Times Union.
Brown bought 47.5% of the Empire on March 2, but he has since claimed to own 100% of the team. The franchise has encountered some problems in recent months.
According to TMZ, he made threats of violence towards former coach Tom Menas, as well as locking players out of their hotel rooms.
There was even photo evidence of players’ and coaches’ names on a paper that showed which people would not be allowed in their hotel rooms.
Damon Ware, the head coach, stated Brown completed a ‘hostile takeover’ of the team by forcing other owners out to get 95% of the team, and constantly threatening to get physical with those who dared cross him.
Players also haven’t gotten paid after the past couple of games, which is why they even considered sitting out. They still decided to play after being told they were getting paid, which never happened.
“Nobody has been paid,’ Ware wrote in a comment on Facebook. “If you disagreed with that, you were a problem. I am certainly not desperate enough to coach for free. I love what Coach (Tom) Menas and I built over the last few years. Sending my love and prayers.”
When some players stood up to team officials on the bus ride back home, they would find out they had been locked out of their very own hotel rooms once they headed back home.
Hotel staffers confirmed that Brown himself was behind that.
Six players also left the team, including starting quarterback Sam Castranova, after they did not receive a room key at the team’s Albany Holiday Inn hotel.
The players struggled to get their belongings out of their rooms, and although they will be getting paid, they no longer have any intention of playing for Brown’s organization.
At 9:40 a.m. on Monday, Albany police responded to a call of aggravated harassment at the hotel, and the investigation is still ongoing.
Brown held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to name Tom Menas as head coach. Menas was fired a week before the season started and is now returning to the team.
The Empire are 1-2 through three games. Their next game is against the West Texas Warbirds on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters