Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens said he does not believe the Oakland Raiders should suspend Antonio Brown but acknowledged the Pro Bowler has been "unprofessional" and should apologize to the organization.
"I think he should go and No. 1 apologize, talk to [Mike] Mayock and try to see if they can resolve this," Owens said on ESPN's First Take. "They've put so much into getting Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders. Obviously we've heard a lot about what happened in Pittsburgh, but obviously since that, there's been a lot that has transpired since then.
"So obviously with this latest incident, this is probably the icing on the cake. Everybody's obviously just probably rooting for the suspension. But there is so much riding on this season, there is so much riding on next season going to Vegas that they've invested so much in him. I don't think the answer is suspending him right away. If there is any way possible and I think Drew Rosenhaus has said they're trying to resolve this behind closed doors. If they can do that and move forward I think it's a good thing."
Brown's future with the Raiders is uncertain after the Pro Bowl wideout had a shouting match with general manager Mike Mayock on Thursday. He was incensed by the team fining him for missing a pair of team activities during training camp due to his displeasure with the NFL banning his preferred helmet.
Mayock had previously called for Brown to be "all in or all out" after he missed a practice in August. Teams can fine players for missing team activities during training camp but often eschew financial penalties to avoid alienating the player—especially with stars.
Owens said Brown likely believes he should have been given leeway as the team's best player.
"I can't really put a finger on what's behind the behavior, all I can say—I'm not going to go into name-calling—but it's been very unprofessional," Owens said. "I'm not condoning a lot of what he's done, but I think with money comes power. With money comes respect. A lot of that, he's witnessed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before he got money, before he was Antonio Brown, he was that sixth-rounder with a chip on his shoulder.
"When you're a superstar, there is superstar treatment. And I guarantee you, by Mayock fining him, he probably felt a certain way. Because now he's the star with the Oakland Raiders."
Agent Drew Rosenhaus appeared on ESPN's Get Up! earlier Friday and said he's hopeful that the situation can be resolved.
"There isn't an issue as far as I'm concerned, outside of what happened a couple days ago at practice," Rosenhaus said. "Antonio is looking forward to putting all of this stuff behind him. He wants to play football. He wants to have a good relationship with the team. That's why he signed with them. That's why he was traded there. Obviously, there's been a lot of speculation about the foot injury, the helmet. His feet are healthy. He's got a new helmet."
Rosenhaus categorized Brown's relationship with Raiders coach Jon Gruden as "good" but seemed to admit there's tension with Mayock. Gruden and Mayock are close dating back to their days as television analysts, and the former NFL Network draft guru is in his first season as a general manager.
It's clear, based on all of his actions this offseason, that Brown expects some level of superstar treatment. Much of his frustration in Pittsburgh stemmed from the fact he believed Ben Roethlisberger received preferential treatment. The Raiders knew all of this and saw potential despite Brown's controversial offseason, then proceeded to work through the helmet issue with him, only to fine him days before the season began.
It's fair to say both parties could have handled the situation better. However, it remains possible that the tension between Mayock and Brown has reached a point of no return. Rosenhaus told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio that he does not expect Brown to play in the Raiders' season opener.