I wrote this blog post a few weeks ago, and back then I thought I had seen all the insanity possible regarding Antonio Brown and his ownership of the Albany Empire.
Hoo boy, was I wrong.
See, in those scant few weeks since I last wrote a blog post, Antonio Brown has had issues paying the food vendor in charge of feeding his team (he eventually paid up), the team has lost blowout matches, they’re going through quarterbacks like I go through cans of Red Bull, and now the original head coach – the one he fired earlier this year and had to re-hire – has quit again. And the replacement head coach that Brown wanted said no. And now he’s down to former Albany Firebirds lineman Peter Porcelli as the new Albany Empire head coach.
I haven’t seen this many moves since the World Series of 52-Pick-Up.
Oh, wait. It gets better.
Now I’m hearing that AB – the owner of the Empire – intends to suit up for this Saturday’s game AND he’s trying to convince former NFL quarterback Cam Newton to come in for a game or three as the new Empire quarterback.
Yeah, nothing like having a Super Bowl quarterback and a former All-Pro wide receiver suit up for a football game against (check notes) Fayetteville.
Trust me, this is like those old World Team Tennis games where the big superstar tennis player would join one of these WTT squads for a road trip. Trust me, there were many good reasons to see Anna Kournikova playing tennis in the Washington Avenue Armory for a WTT team back in the day. Tennis might have been one of those reasons. 😀
But come on now. This stopped being a story about “Can the Albany Empire become Arena Football League champions” a long time ago. It stopped being a story about “Can the son of the Albany Firebirds legend make this team winners again” a long time ago.
Now we’re wondering if the 2023 Albany Empire could possibly be the WORST minor league sports team to ever call the Capital District home.
And trust me, they’ve got some serious competition on that front. Because the 2023 Albany Empire would have to compete with –
- The 1990-91 Albany Choppers International Hockey League team, a squad that was WOEFULLY underfunded and stuck into our area to compete with the American Hockey League – to the point where the AHL actually revived a dormant franchise and put it in the RPI Fieldhouse so that (with the Adirondack Red Wings) there were now THREE minor league hockey teams in the Capital Region. The Choppers did not even finish their maiden season in the area.
- The 1991-92 New York Kick indoor soccer team. This was a complete shitshow. The New York Kick drew tens of fans, maybe won three games in their entire lifespan, and proved that indoor soccer belongs in larger cities, and should be funded by men with actual money.
- The 1979 (and 1981) New York Eagles outdoor soccer team. Hey, here’s an idea. Let’s bring a whole Yugoslavian soccer team over to Albany to play in Bleecker Stadium, have their underfunded owner run the team into the ground, then have the team sit out a year, come back, and still stumble on the pitch. On the pitch at Bleecker Stadium. The pitch that has more lumps and divots than the streets that surround Bleecker Stadium.
- The 1992-93 Capital Region Pontiacs basketball team. These were the rebranded Albany Patroons in a perverse attempt to keep the team around – hey, let’s sell the team’s name off for a few extra dollars. And let’s play in the downtown arena where 3,000 fans look like 20. There is a reason why the Albany Patroons barely acknowledge this season in their history. It’s like if someone today suggested that the Albany Patroons come back for the 2023-24 season as the Capital District Destination Kias. With popular admission prices, but puppies and babies are not included.
Yeah. We’ve had some trainwreck sports teams in this area. And sadly, it’s those teams that cast long shadows over the good and solid sports franchises in the area. And Antonio Brown is doing NOBODY any favors with all this mess.
Best option for him right now is to find someone willing to purchase the team from him, step back, and let the Empire heal itself.
Because the possibility of seeing Sunday’s news reports of “Albany’s Cam Newton throws to Albany’s Antonio Brown in loss to (checks notes again) Fayetteville” is seeming more and more real as the days progress.
Man, I wish there was something else that could be done here. I really do.
But at the moment … I just don’t know what that something really is right now.
I knew about the Porcelli hire last night, and it sounded like Antonio got, for once, good advice from his father, since Porcelli was a lineman on those Firebird teams Eddie Brown played for. But…..Cam Newton? Seriously? Antonio is missing a few screws.
IMHO, the proper place for a sports team owner is to remain quietly in the background. But this guy seems to be all about flash.
Shut up, avoid the cameras, keep YOUR name out of the headlines, and hire competent staff to preserve and nurture your investment. Simple enough.
And then there’s the old: “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Former Steeler, no wonder
Brown is a neophyte as a sports team owner. Couple that with his diva behavior, and, well, it’s a recipe for disaster. Saw a headline earlier that said that new QB Jonathan Bane already wants his release.