As NFL teams start to assess their offseason and review mistakes made over the past year, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has pointed the finger at himself for the failed attempt to install wide receiver Antonio Brown in his organization.
"I put that on me," Mayock said in a phone interview with The Athletic's Vic Tafur. "My anticipation was that he was coming off a situation in Pittsburgh where he wants to prove everybody wrong and he wants to ride into the Hall of Fame. That he was going to come in with Jon Gruden and Derek Carr and our offense and lead the way. ... I really thought we were going to get the best out of Antonio Brown and we didn't.
"We weren't able to get anything out of him. So, at the end of the day, in hindsight, we lost a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick, and I can't tell you how much pain that causes me."
The comments from Mayock mark one of the first instances of the GM opening up to non-Raiders or NFL Network media members and go to show just how much the misfire has weighed on him.
Brown's short-lived time in Oakland was a spectacular disaster. After the Raiders sent a third- and fifth-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers to acquire the disgruntled wideout in March 2019, Brown's career went haywire.
Training camp started with Brown experiencing frostbite on his feet due to a cryotherapy accident. Things compounded when the league determined Brown could no longer wear his preferred helmet due to safety concerns. Upset about having to switch helmets, Brown filed a grievance with the league and threatened to retire if he was unable to continue playing in his preferred headgear. All of Brown's protests were denied and he eventually relented, but not before Mayock was forced to fine the receiver $54,000 for unexcused absences in training camp.
A breakup with the Raiders became inevitable as Brown rebelled against the fines, confronted Mayock on the training fields and posted letters he received from the team on Instagram. Just when things seemed to be calming down, and Brown appeared willing to get back on the same page with his team, the 31-year-old said he would not play for the team after it voided the guaranteed money in his contract and fined him another $215,000 for his confrontation with Mayock.
Brown never played a game for the Raiders but had as much of an impact on the team this season as anyone. What could've been another Pro Bowl season for Brown deteriorated before it even began.
One day after signing with the New England Patriots, Brown's former trainer filed a lawsuit accusing Brown of sexual assault and sexual misconduct on three occasions in 2017 and 2018. After Brown had played one game with the Patriots, another woman came forward with a separate sexual misconduct allegation and later told the NFL Brown had sent her threatening text messages after her story was published.