Antonio Brown, a former NFL superstar wide receiver who was last seen on a football field waving goodbye to fans at MetLife Stadium as he stormed off following a tiff with then-Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians in January 2022, was named the part owner of the National Arena League franchise Albany Empire.
Empire majority owner Mike Kwarta introduced Brown to reporters on Thursday morning. Brown is the son of Eddie Brown, who starred for the Albany Firebirds back in the Arena Football League days. The Empire previously played in the Arena Football League before it folded and was known as the Firebirds for a period of time in that organization. The team won the final Arena Bowl before the league folded.
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“I’m excited and grateful to be a part of the Albany Empire,” Brown said. “I grew up here as a little kid watching my dad be successful and watching this build erupt.
“For me, it was easy. I’m just excited to be here and excited to bring Albany Empire a three-peat and see the players in the community live out their dreams.”
The New York-based team also named Eddie Brown as vice president of football operations. Eddie Brown was named as the greatest Arena Football League player in history when the league revealed its top 20 players list as part of their anniversary celebration in 2006.
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“Everything right now is surreal,” he said. “I’m happy to be home.”
Albany won the National Arena League two years in a row. Their 2023 season begins on April 16 against the Orlando Predators.
“The future of the Albany Empire is bright and we couldn’t be happier with the direction that we’re going,” team president Matt Woods said at the press conference.
Antonio Brown tweeted out a photo of himself with his family at a Firebirds game several years ago.
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There are seven teams in the National Arena League. Aside from the Empire and the Predators, the Carolina Cobras, Fayetteville Mustangs, Jacksonville Sharks, San Antonio Gunslingers and West Texas Warbirds are also in the league.