Two years after he was last seen in the NFL, former All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is teasing a debut for the arena football team he recently purchased. But that’s not all. The longtime Steelers star is also fielding “genuine” interest from NFL teams about a potential return to the league in 2023, his agent JR Rickert tells CBS Sports.
Brown, 34, hasn’t taken the field since storming out of the Buccaneers’ Week 17 game in 2021, when he infamously went shirtless after a dispute with Tampa Bay coaches. But the seven-time Pro Bowler recently reported to practice for the Albany Empire, the upstart National Arena League team of which he is a majority owner, and plans to “suit up” at Saturday’s home game.
It’s a chance for Brown to jump-start an arena franchise he’s running alongside his father, former indoor standout Eddie Brown, while he considers his own NFL comeback, according to Rickert.
“He is exploring the right fit,” his agent said Thursday, describing recent NFL inquiries as “genuine.”
This comes a month after Brown abruptly teased an NFL comeback, even posting a picture of himself in a Ravens uniform. He’d said as recently as March, when he became co-owner of the Empire, that he was retired from playing.
Rickert expressed confidence Brown will be on an NFL roster at some point in 2023. But is the wideout serious about a return?
“I think that he is a multi-talented individual who does everything at a high level,” Rickert said, “and whatever he commits to, he goes all in.”
Brown, who’s offering military and first responders free admission to his apparent Empire debut on Saturday, has remained a controversial off-field figure. Since 2019, in between colorful departures from the Steelers, Raiders and Patriots organizations, the former All-Pro has faced numerous lawsuits, including those alleging sexual misconduct and felony battery.
Asked if he’s concerned Brown could face future NFL discipline in the event of a return to the league, Rickert said only that he’s “had a tremendously positive experience working with AB, and would hope that I (can) continue to be a strong advocate and advisor.”