Sports

Antonio Brown facing possible class-action suit from Albany Empire players, coaches

Antonio Brown giveth, Antonio Brown taketh away.

And now the former NFL star turned owner of the Albany Empire of the National Arena League is facing a possible class-action lawsuit from some Empire players and coaches, according to the Times Union of Albany.

Empire coach Moe Leggett alleged that the staff and players were paid following the Empire’s final game against the Orlando Predators on June 9 as normal.

However, a short while later, Leggett said players and coaches noticed the checks had been reversed and taken out of their bank accounts, the Times Union reported.

The players are owed $500 or more from that game, according to the report.

Leggett told the newspaper that he had tried to believe in Brown, but that the trust had deteriorated.

“I’m frustrated,” Leggett said to the Times Union. “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.”


Antonio Brown is facing a planned class-action lawsuit from Empire players and coaches.
Antonio Brown is facing a planned class-action lawsuit from Empire players and coaches.
AP

He expanded on that in a separate interview with News10, an Albany ABC affiliate.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation that we’re being put in,” Leggett said. “We just want to put it behind us. Just pay what the guys are owed and we’ll just move on. No hard feelings. But you’re playing with people’s livelihoods.”

In another report from the Times Union, team accountant Alex Gunaris told the outlet in an email that missing equipment was the reason for paychecks being withheld.

“We are reviewing and gathering information on stolen property and equipment not being returned to us after the last game,” Gunaris told the outlet in an email. “Football gear and other items were missing after we were removed from the league. Football helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys, equipment, etc. are on this list. Once we get a list of players who returned equipment we will reissue payments.”

Brown’s tenure as owner of the Empire has been filled with controversy since he became majority owner of the team in April.

Brown and the Empire were booted from the NAL earlier this month and he allegedly owes the league $21,000.

The situation has put players and staff in a bad spot and left them without any other way to get the money they feel they deserve.

Former Empire wide receiver Fabian Guerra supported the decision to sue Brown.


Antonio Brown addresses reporters.
Antonio Brown addresses reporters.
Twitter/Albany Empire

“I feel like this was his plan all along,” Guerra told the Times Union. “I feel like he does stuff for social media and to sell his songs. I think it’s just what he does. That’s the type of guy he is. 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.”

Leggett is still looking for a lawyer to take the case.

“My feelings are everywhere because I feel like he’s basically doing us so wrong to the point of no return,” lineman Brandon Thorpe wrote in a text to the Times Union.

Brown played 12 seasons in the NFL, earning four All-Pro nods and seven trips to the Pro Bowl.

He twice was the NFL’s receptions leader (2014, 2015) and was also twice its receiving yardage leader (2014, 2017).

He’s also remembered for a litany of on-field incidents, including stripping off part of his uniform mid-game when his Buccaneers were playing the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Jan. 2, 2022.

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