The always controversial Antonio Brown is strongly considering making a return to the playing field for the team he owns in the Arena Football League. The league has struggled to maintain relevance because of stiff competition with the USFL and XFL spring football leagues. Brown surely could provide a spark to the Arena League that would increase fan engagement.
Brown, who reputedly bought a majority stake in the Albany Empire in March, has gotten off to a rocky start as an owner. By May he reportedly had had several disagreements with players and coaches in his organization. The former NFL star receiver locked players out of their hotel rooms and had not paid them since April 12, according to reports.
Brown and the organization must have put those things behind them, because WYNT’s Rodger Wyland reported that the seven-time Pro Bowl selection will be suiting up on May 27.
The last time Brown was on the field was in January 2022 at Metlife Stadium. He walked off the field shirtless, leaving his pads and jersey behind as well as his NFL career. The move effectively locked him out of the league and put him into retirement — or at least that’s how it has appeared.
The Empire has averaged an attendance of about 2,500 fans, and Brown believes he can raise that number to 10,000, according to WYNT. They also reported that he has been in contact with Cam Newton.
Newton last played in the 2021 season with the Carolina Panthers. The former MVP quarterback has thrown for 32,382 yards and 194 touchdowns. He has also been itching for a chance to get back on the played. He recently did several podcast interviews to discuss why he is not in the NFL and who he’d be willing to serve as a backup quarterback.
Brown and Newton never played together in the NFL, but the two are some of the most polarizing figures to ever play professional football. Newton’s unique clothing style and bold confidence would definitely help put fans in seats. Brown’s unpredictable behavior and blazing speed would also provide the AFL with a much needed attendance lift. The pair could be the best combination since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
The Empire’s next home game will be on May 20. They are hoping to defend their AFL title this season after losing only four games last year. Hopefully, Brown can flex his ownership muscle and get Newton to suit up with him this season.