Before April 2023, the Albany Empire had established itself as the top team in the NAL. The Empire was coming into the 2023 season after winning back-to-back NAL championships. Everyone that follows the NAL expected the Empire to continue its dominance in the league.
In mid-April, the Empire announced that former NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown was joining the Empire as a partial owner. Brown was excited to join the NAL ownership group in an attempt to honor his father, Arena Football icon “Touchdown” Eddie Brown. Eddie Brown is known as being the best Arena football player of all time, and during his career, he was a star player for the Albany Firebirds.
Unfortunately for the NAL and the Albany Empire, Antonio Brown has become synonymous with instability and chaotic behavior. Since taking over as the owner of the Empire, there have been several head coaching changes, refusal to pay players; he was kicked out of the hotel that he had been using as a residence, Brown’s announcement he would play a game with the Empire, and his failure to live up to all of his promises and responsibilities.
The result is that the NAL has kicked the Albany Empire out of the league for refusing to pay their dues. The funding model of the NAL requires each team to play one-seventh of the league’s operating cost. Those monthly payments made by each team are to support the NAL financially.
In April, Brown paid the monthly dues for the Empire but then had that payment returned to him. In May and June, Brown refused to pay the dues to remain in the league, and as a result, the NAL moved to remove the Empire from the indoor football league immediately. The NAL also fined Brown one thousand dollars the week before, and he has also refused to pay that fine.
Over a few months, the Empire has gone from being the best team in the league to a team without an indoor football league. While this is a huge lost opportunity for many Empire players, coaches, fans, and the Albany community, the dramatic events involving the Empire and Brown may start to fade away. The demolition of the Albany Empire joins a series of erratic decisions and outcomes involving Antonio Brown.
Multiple media sources have documented this situation and Brown’s recent decisions. Before undertaking the deconstruction of the Albany Empire, Brown had reportedly failed to pay for other events that he had been associated with recently. Brown has developed a bad reputation for his behavior after publicly quitting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mid-game at the end of the 2021 NFL season.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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