SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour gives her take on the latest drama surrounding Antonio Brown and why it’s casting a shadow on what should be a celebratory year for the NFL.
Larry Moss Jr., the former stepfather of Antonio Brown, said he is not surprised the NFL wide receiver is facing a civil lawsuit in which Brown stands accused of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
“I can’t tell you that he did what they said he did,’’ Moss told USA TODAY Sports. “But I know he’s very abusive to women.
“As far as just raping somebody, (Brown) just feels like he can have whatever he wants. He’s just empowered that way. So it doesn’t surprise me that this kind of allegation came out about him.’’
Moss, who said he helped raise Brown in Miami-Dade County in Florida between the ages of 5 and 17, also said the NFL star’s troubles can be traced to those formative years. Brown was known by many people as “Tony,’’ short for Antonio.
“A lot of things that Tony’s doing, nothing surprises me,’’ Moss said. “I’m surprised that it took them this long to figure him out. Because he’s been this way since he’s been 12 years old.’’
Now 31, the narrative around Brown has taken a dramatic shift in recent days.
Just last week, he was the one-man circus with the Oakland Raiders — the wacky wide receiver with frostbitten feet, helmet appeals, missed practices, fines and odd Instagram posts, including a post that called on the Raiders to release him.
The Raiders complied.
Brown, a seven-year Pro Bowler, signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots on Monday. A day later, he was accused in a lawsuit by Britney Taylor, a former college classmate of Brown’s who worked with Brown as a personal trainer, of raping, sexually assaulting and sexually harassing her during incidents that allegedly took place in 2017 and 2018.
USA TODAY does not typically identify victims of sexual assault unless they decide to come forward publicly, as Taylor has in this case.
Through his attorney, Darren Heitner, Brown has denied Taylor’s allegations.
Told of Moss’ allegations made during an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Heitner replied by email, “we have no comment at this time.”http://www.usatoday.com/”
Moss, 50, said he and Brown had a combative relationship, that Brown punched Moss in the mouth when Brown was a teenager and that the two have not spoken to each other since Brown left Miami Norland Senior High School in 2005.
Brown’s younger brother Desmond said he and Antonio Brown got involved during physical altercations between their mother, Adrianne Moss, and Larry Moss.
“Sometimes we’d have to get physical with him, too,”http://www.usatoday.com/” Desmond Brown, 29, told USA TODAY Sports by text message. “And this happened numerous times. Then my mom made us leave (home) because she needed her husband’s help with the bills. Now they’re divorced and we try to rekindle the relationship with our mom but it’s hard.”
Moss denied Desmond Brown’s allegations and said he and Adrianne had only one physical altercation during their marriage that lasted about 20 years.
Although Moss said stress around Brown’s behavior led to the divorce last year, he also said the couple brought their own troubles into the relationship.
Moss was arrested on charges of cocaine possession in 1989 and charges of cocaine possession with intent in 1998 in Miami-Dade County, according to court records. He was sentenced to five months probation in 1989 and sentenced to six months probation in 1998, according to court records.
In 1991, Moss was arrested for aggravated battery and served an unspecified amount of time in jail, according to court records. He also pled guilty to criminal trespass in 1990 and served nine days in jail, according to records.
Even before Taylor filed her lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. Southern District Court of Florida, it appeared the turmoil and tumult in Antonio Brown’s life had reached new levels.
Brown’s off-the-field issues
Brown’s legal problems began to mount about a year ago.
In October 2018, he was sued on allegations of angrily throwing furniture from an apartment balcony that almost hit a toddler. Brown claimed he did not throw the furniture, and in July 2019 the lawsuit was settled.
Brown was cited in November 2018 for reckless driving, clocking over 100 mph. He didn’t show up to his court date and was found guilty in February.
Wiltrice Jackson, the mother of one of Brown’s five children, accused Brown of shoving her to the ground at his home in Florida on Jan. 17 when she was seeking reimbursement for their son’s haircut. Heitner, Brown’s attorney, at the time labeled the accusations “baseless and false.”
In July, celebrity chef Stefano Tedeschi claimed in a lawsuit Brown owes him $38,521 because Brown failed to pay Tedeschi after he cooked for Brown and the player’s guests at the 2018 Pro Bowl.
The next month a personal trainer sued. Sean Pena claimed Brown owes him more than $7,100, according to TMZ Sports, which reported that Heitner, Brown’s attorney, said Pena already had been paid what Brown owed him.
Now, Brown faces his most serious problem yet — Taylor’s lawsuit.
USA TODAY Sports reached Brown’s mother, Adrianne Moss, on Monday, a day before Taylor’s lawsuit was filed. She said she would call back in 10 minutes but never did.
On Thursday, Larry Moss said Adrianne Moss was upset with him after learning what Moss had alleged about Antonio Brown. USA TODAY Sports again reached out to Adrianne Moss, by phone and text messages. She did not respond.
Said Larry Moss, “She doesn’t want to say anything bad.’’
OPINION: NFL must do the right thing
Harold Jacobs, director of the Florida Youth Football League in Miami, was full of praise for Brownearlier this week.
He shared a photo of players wearing football jerseys — all with “A. BROWN” stitched across the back — that Jacobs said Brown donated this year to the Gwen Cherry Park Bulls, the youth team Brown played for growing up.
“Nothing but good things for him coming through Gwen Cherry Park,’’ Jacobs said. Later he added by text message, “But please reflect on the good he does for his community. A lot of our kids look up to him coming from the same area gives them hope.’’
That was two days before Taylor filed her lawsuit. Jacobs did not respond to a message seeking comment on the allegations.
Though many of Brown’s problems have become public, Desmond Brown indicated some of his older brother’s stress — particularly family life — is hidden from public view.
Antonio Brown has five children by three women, and Desmond Brown said the dynamichas added to chaos in Antonio Brown’s life.
“It’s an ugly situation if you really get into the details,’’ Desmond Brown told USA TODAY Sports a day before the lawsuit was filed.
Larry Moss said he witnessed Brown physically abuse Jackson. He said the incident occurred when Brown and Jackson both attended high school.
Jackson, a 31-year-old hairdresser, told USA TODAY Sports she would call back when reached by phone. She did not call back or respond to text messages.
Moss also said Shameika Brailsford, the mother of Brown’s oldest child, Antonio Brown Jr., told Moss that Brown physically abused her.
“She told me that he done jumped on her before,’’ Moss said. “He done choked her. They done had run-ins.’’
Brailsford did not respond to USA TODAY Sports’ request for comment left by voicemail, text message and messages via social media.
In a photo posted on Brown’s Instagram on Sept. 1, he is pictured with Chelsie Kyriss, a longtime girlfriend, and the three children he and Kyriss have together. Their relationship became fodder for celebrity websites in 2017 when Kyriss was pregnant with their third child and Brown started dating Instagram celebrity Jena Frumes.
Path to the NFL
Time was, Brown’s public saga was mostly about football — and whether he had the academics or discipline to make it to college. Among Brown’s setbacks:
►He signed with Alcorn State, but because of an issue with grade transcripts he never played for the school, according to ESPN.
► He was denied admission at Florida State because of academic concerns, according to the Detroit Free Press.
► He was dismissed from Florida International after getting into a dispute with another student and then security, according to ESPN.
In 2007 Brown enrolled at Central Michigan, and former assistant coach Bill Odykirk said he recalls the day Brown arrived on campus in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
“When he got here he had virtually nothing,”http://www.usatoday.com/” Odykirk told USA TODAY Sports. “Whatever he had, he carried off the bus in a garbage bag.”http://www.usatoday.com/”
In fact, Brown didn’t even have a scholarship, but his walk-on status with the football team was short-lived.
Transitioning to wide receiver from quarterback, Brown thrived over three seasons at the school and avoided any serious trouble, said Rich Fleming, a former professor at Central Michigan who said he attended several football practices when Brown played for the team.
“He knew he had problems,”http://www.usatoday.com/” Fleming told USA TODAY Sports. “He had a temper. He knew that. But he kept things under control. … I hate to see what’s going on now, but here he was good.”
After Brown decided to forgo his senior year, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the sixth round in 2010. He proved to be gifted, and he got rich in the process.
BILL BELICHICK: Patriots coach thinks receiver will work out
TIMELINE: Brown’s past legal issues
WEEK 2 PICKS: Will Cleveland bounce back?
Entering his 10th season in the NFL with a $9 million guarantee from the Patriots, Brown has made more than $80 million in salary and bonuses, according to spotrac.com.
Along the way, he has earned a reputation as a highly talented and occasionally disruptive receiver. The situation deteriorated in 2018, when he complained about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin before the Steelers traded him to the Raiders.
At 5-10, Brown lacks exceptional size but exudes a confidence that one of his uncles, Keyiones King, said can be traced to the youth football fields in Miami.
Growing up, Antonio Brown rarely saw his father, Eddie Brown Sr., who was playing Arena League Football. King said he assumed the role of father figure and instituted a football ritual for Antonio Brown and Brown’s brothers on gameday.
Helmet shields. Gloves. Tights. Neck collars.
Whatever the boys wanted, they got, according to King, who said he provided the equipment and taped up the boys’ football cleats to their specifications.
“Tony was a real pretty boy,’’ King told USA TODAY Sports. “He’d go out, he got his rag, he got his shield on, and going to show off. He catch the ball, he stomps and get into your face, like, ‘You seen me?’
“I taught him from day one, when it’s time, you want to the ball. You’re the guy. Every time. … And it may be arrogant, but that’s how you got to play the game, especially when you’re coming out of Miami.’’
But according to Moss, as Brown emerged as a football star at 12, Brown’s behavior became increasingly troubled off the field.
“Couldn’t hardly get him to go to school,’’ Moss said. “He’d run away, be gone for the weekend and then he’ll come back home on Mondays. That’s how it kind of started with him and I having clashes.
“I whupped his ass one time with a cord. I beat his ass, I did. And that was probably the only time I really chastised him. But it was just one thing after another, one thing after another. …
“He was just a problem kid, man.”
Despite the strife between him and Brown, Moss said, he thinks he was a good parent while helping Adrianne raise Brown and the two sons Adrianne Moss had with Eddie Brown.
“The only thing Tony can say bad about me is that one time when he was growing up I was working for Sears, his mom and I got into a real big fight one day. Now he seen her and I fight. He wanted his uncle to come in and whip my ass. And when that didn’t happen, he just had straight hate towards me from that day forward.’’
Talking about Brown, Moss grew angry while noting Brown’s mother said she is starting to look for a second job.
“There’s no way in the world his mother should be looking for no second job with the kind of money he has and what she did for him,’’ Moss said.
“Antonio Brown is a fraud, man. He a fraud. He’s just not a good person, man.’’
Contributing: Kevin Allen
Follow Josh Peter on Twitter @joshlpeter11