Members of the Albany Empire, a team that was part of the National Arena League (NAL), are gearing up to file a class-action lawsuit against their owner, Antonio Brown. The former NFL All-Pro wide receiver faces allegations of withdrawing the final game’s paychecks from the team members’ bank accounts, leaving players and coaches in a state of shock and frustration. According to the Empire’s head coach, Moe Leggett, team members discovered the shocking bank account reversals after being paid for their last game against the Orlando Predators. Leggett, in an interview, expressed his displeasure, “I’m frustrated. I tried to give [Brown] the benefit of the doubt. I tried to work with him. I was trying to be the peacemaker, the mediator, to make sure things ran smoothly and just under the radar. But I can no longer do that.” The NAL, after a series of alleged payment defaults by Brown, ousted the Albany Empire on June 15, six days after the team played its last game, which unfortunately resulted in a loss to the Orlando Predators.
Details of the Financial Dispute
The financial dispute that has hit the team hard includes paycheck amounts of $500 and upwards owed to the players for their final game. Brown, who also enjoys a reputation as a rapper, is a representative of a trust which could also be facing a lawsuit. Leggett, in an attempt to resolve the issue, has tried to reach out to Brown, his accountant Alex Gunaris, and team president Alberony Denis, but all attempts have been fruitless. Despite the controversy, some players, like Empire’s wide receiver Fabian Guerra, have managed to find other paying jobs.
Player Reactions and Future Impact
Guerra, now playing for the Massachusetts Pirates, an Indoor Football League team, said, “It’s kind of like bad business by him, but I’m over here in Massachusetts and playing with a new team, so I’m not worried. It sucks it has to come down to that, and now there’s going to be a lawsuit, so he just looks bad.” Brandon Thorpe, Empire’s lineman, expressed his disappointment, “My feelings are everywhere because I feel like he’s basically doing us so wrong to the point of no return.” The situation has generated concerns about the future reputation of Antonio Brown. Guerra, who previously had an amicable relationship with Brown and trained with him in Miami, voiced his worries, “No one trusts him anymore. I see it hard for him to get any future deals going because of how he is as a person.”
The Aftermath of the Empire’s Fall
The fall of the Albany Empire could trigger a chain of litigations. The MVP Arena’s general manager Bob Belber mentioned that the Empire is considered to be in default of its license agreement with the arena, further complicating matters. The NAL’s Commissioner, Chris Siegfried, revealed that Brown allegedly owed $21,000 in league assessment fees. Amidst all this chaos, Belber expressed hopes for a resolution, “Assuming there’s a favorable response to that, then everything can be worked out, and we’ll get paid hopefully the damages that we’ll be owed. If it doesn’t, then we’ll see what other actions we may have to take.” This is just another addition to the issues Antonio Brown has faced in his career, which include battery and burglary conveyance charges, and multiple allegations of rape and sexual misconduct. However, the downward spiral was equally swift, marked by a series of controversies. The last straw was his unexpected exit from a Buccaneers game at the end of the 2021 season. Brown stripped off his gear and left the field in the middle of the game, which has left an indelible mark on his career.
As of now, the disgruntled team members are actively seeking legal counsel to file the class-action lawsuit against Brown and the trust he represents. Despite the ongoing challenges, the players remain hopeful about finding a resolution to this dire situation. Antonio Brown’s professional journey, marked by a string of controversies, offers a lesson about the precarious balance between fame and responsibility. The current financial dispute, with its potential legal implications, could further stain his reputation. The upcoming legal battle will not only decide the fate of the unpaid dues but will also determine the future course of Brown’s professional journey.
The Path Forward
The upcoming lawsuit might take time and resources, but the players remain hopeful. Leggett and several players are firm about their decision to join the lawsuit. Brown, Gunaris, and Denis remain unavailable for comment, making it challenging to foresee any immediate resolution.
The developments surrounding the Albany Empire and its team members have cast a long shadow over arena football, bringing to light the intricacies of financial management in sports teams. As the situation evolves, the focus is on the legal proceedings and the outcomes they may yield. The saga of the Albany Empire serves as a stark reminder of the challenges athletes can face off the field. The players, coaches and the entire team will undoubtedly be watching the forthcoming legal proceedings closely. For more insights into the world of sports management and legal challenges, visit www.sportsmanagementinsights.com.
Amidst the lawsuit against Antonio Brown, there’s significant news in college sports, where Jim Boeheim has stepped down as the coach of Syracuse.