When Antonio Brown is on the scene the lights just burn a little bit brighter.
The National Arena League (Arena Football League) hadn’t been making as many headlines with competition from the USFL and XFL until Antonio Brown became an owner and suddenly the Arena Football League is the talk of the town.
Most recently, Antonio Brown and his Arena League team the Albany Empire were in the news due to reports that the team hadn’t paid key players and staff. A report from the Albany Times-Union said that “Coach Damon Ware confirmed the lack of payment” and later left the team.
Given that report is just 3 days old, it is odd timing for National Arena League Commissioner Chris Siegfried to release a statement publicly praising Antonio Brown’s ownership. Unless, of course, the reports about the lack of payment don’t hold any water.
In a press release titled ‘League Strengthens Support of All Ownership Moves in 2023’ published on the Arena Football League’s website, the commissioner specifically called out Antonio Brown, saying:
“The NAL would like to thank our team owners for their dedication to the league and their commitment to providing a high-quality football experience for our fans,” said Commissioner Chris Siegfried. “We understand the challenges that come with owning a team and appreciate the hard work and sacrifices that are made to ensure the success of their franchises. I would also like to thank new Albany Empire majority owner Antonio Brown, and MVP Arena General manager Bob Belber for their efforts during the Empire’s ownership transition. Antonio brings a new level of passion to the Empire and to the NAL; I look forward to working with AB as we continue to strengthen the National Arena League.“
The Albany Empire was quick to tweet the press release from the league commissioner:
Official @NALFootball Press Release. https://t.co/GHzp0IovSo
— Albany Empire (@thealbanyempir) May 4, 2023
The recent report from the Albany Times-Union made some pretty big claims:
“The team is supposed to be paid the Friday following each week’s game; no one received direct deposits on April 28 ahead of Sunday’s game, and the team played the Carolina Cobras in Greensboro, N.C., without pay, one player said, speaking on condition of anonymity.”
A spokesman for the team, Alberony Denis, told the Times-Union it was “due to issues with the payroll processor, which had put a hold due to a problem created when former team owner Mike Kwarta and most of the former front office left following Kwarta’s sale of his ownership.”
Presumably, this new statement from the league commissioner is meant to back up the Albany Empire’s stance that it was nothing more than a payroll issue caused by the transfer of the team.
But given the timing of things, it certainly begs the question of why not address the reports specifically if you are the commissioner and instead just vaguely express support?