Antonio Brown has made the transition to football team ownership after buying a stake in the Albany Empire of the National Arena League, the team announced on Thursday. His father, Eddie Brown, will also be part of the franchise as vice president of football operations.
It’s a special team for both of them, as Eddie Brown was a star wide receiver for the Albany Firebirds in AF2 in the 1990s. He was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame on August 12, 2011.
The Empire have won the last two National Arena League championships and the new leadership is looking to continue that momentum.
“I grew up here, as a little kid watching my dad be successful and watching this building erupt,” the seven-time Pro Bowler said during the introductory press conference.
“For me, to be in a family-oriented city like Albany, being here with my dad and my kids and just giving the community and players the opportunity to live out their dreams. So for me, it was easy. I’m just excited to be here and excited to bring Albany Empire a three-peat and see the community and these players live out their dreams.”
Eddie “Touchdown” Brown also said he is ready to chase three-peat. He said the feeling of returning to the franchise was “surreal.”
“To be able to walk into MVP Arena and first statement I’m hit with is ‘welcome home,’ life is great,” he said.
One of the things he touched on during the press conference was how much Albany taught him and what the community meant to him.
“I just grew and learned and developed a lot of concepts. One of the major concepts was family and how important that is. Through all the mistakes that we all make and the different things that we do, there is nothing like family. I was able to learn that here and in the community.”
Although Antonio Brown is still listed as an NFL free agent, he has not been on a football field since leaving MetLife Stadium in the middle of a game when he was part Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January 2022. Brown also played for the Steelers, Raiders and Patriots.
It’s unclear if/when he plans on returning, but for now, he has his hands busy with the Empire. The team is set to start the 2023 season on April 16 against the Orlando Predators.