ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Thursday morning was a homecoming of sorts for four-time all-pro Antonio Brown, as the controversial receiver was introduced as the newest part owner of the Albany Empire.
The former Steeler, Patriot, and Buccaneer has roots here in the Capital Region, attending second grade at Blue Creek Elementary School in Latham. Antonio lived in the area while his dad, “Touchdown” Eddie Brown, paved his way as one of the greatest arena football players of all-time. Brown played for the Albany Firebirds from 1994 to 2001. “It means everything to be back here in the community where I grew up as a kid,” said Antonio Brown. “Had so many moments and motivation with seeing the community come out.”
Brown says his goal is to maintain the stability of arena football in Albany, and his commitment is more than just financial. “Hands on,” said Brown. “Help the players be successful on and off the feel. Just be an advocate here in the community. Bring it out. If that’s going out in the community, inviting people to the games, getting kids the camaraderie, events in the stadium. Whatever it takes to help us be our best selves and hoist the trophy.”
Owner Mike Kwarta didn’t go into numbers, but called themselves equal partners. Brown says he has no plans to play for the Empire, but he wouldn’t go as far as retirement. “I did everything as far as playing in the career of football so for me it’s about helping others seek opportunities,” said Brown. “I don’t want to retire because I still have the game but I’m just working on other things.”
Eddie Brown will also be heavily involved as the team’s new Vice President of Football Operations, though he’ll leave the football decisions to head coach Tom Menas. “Working with sponsorships, getting in the community, talking to everyone about the excitement we have with the Empire,” said Brown on his role with the team. “Our fans, if they come down here and they’re not happy, they’re not satisfied, I want to be able to pick up the phone and call them.”
Antonio Brown is a seven-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl champion, and a two-time NFL receiving leader. While his list of accolades is long, so too is his list of controversies. His NFL career ended as a member of the Buccaneers with him running off the field in the middle of a game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. He’s faced sexual assault allegations, multiple domestic incidents, and pleaded no contest to felony battery and burglary charges in 2020.
Brown was asked Thursday why he should be trusted in his new ownership role. “You’ll find out,” said Brown. “You’ll see. Actions are better than words.”
Kwarta says Brown’s off-field issues did not come up during the discussions to bring him on board. “Nope,” said Kwarta. “Was not a part of the conversation. The conversation was all positive about how we’re going to move forward with community and the football team.”
The Empire host their season opener on Sunday April 16th.