Antonio Brown: "I am extremely grateful to be here"

General Manager Mike Mayock Opening Statement: “Welcome everybody, just kind of a huge day for Raider Nation. I am so excited to sit next to Antonio Brown and his entire family, watching these kids run around upstairs makes me feel good. I’m the oldest of seven. I get a chance to get some life in this building, and I mean that literally and figuratively, these young kids running around breathing some life in this building, and that’s what Antonio is going to do for this football team. I can tell you over the years I’ve watched him practice at least 10 to 15 times in my duties as a broadcaster, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in the heat. I’ll watch this guy practice. He’s as good of a practice football player and works as hard as any football player I’ve ever seen in my life, and when we came here, [Head Coach] Jon [Gruden] and I talked about finding passionate football players that love the game, that practice hard and play hard, and all I am going to tell you is Raider Nation, we got a little better today and it’s all because of the way this guy plays football, Antonio Brown.”

Antonio Brown Opening Statement: “I am extremely grateful to be here. What a great opportunity for me and my family. I know I’m excited just how I got here and I’m looking forward to making these guys proud.”

Q: What does it mean to follow in the footsteps of so many legendary Raiders wide receivers like Cliff Branch, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice and more?

Brown: “Well, it’s legendary. It’s an honor to be here. I know some tremendous guys have been in this building. It’s a historic organization with some preeminent players like you just mentioned. I talked with Coach Gruden and I told him all those guys, it’s great guys. He’s been around them, he’s coached them and I’m just here as a sponge to soak up every information coach has to be as successful as I can be and to help the team take it to a new level. I’m just excited to be in the same building with guys who have been great from the past, and I’m excited to be here and help things go to another level as far as a winning environment.”

Q: What about Derek Carr and yours partnership excites you?

Brown: “Just refreshing. I think he’s hungry for success, hungry for turning the organization around, hungry to get on the winning side of things, and I’m just hungry for the same thing. I think we stand for the same causes: God fearing men, family-first type of people, and we just want to be the best at our craft of putting in work, in the meetings, on the field. I think he’s like a sponge just trying to absorb everything from these guys, to my left and my right, to be able to help the team be successful.”

Q: What was your experience like yesterday, coming to the facility and then meeting up with Derek Carr?

Brown: “It’s a great experience. It’s been going really fast. I’m just trying to take it in but it’s all God’s plan, man. It’s an honor to be here with Mr. Mayock, Mr. Gruden and around some great players. It’s a great opportunity and I’m ready to just get to work and serve some fresh air and some new energy around here and hopefully it develops some great attributes.”

Q: Do you regret any of your decisions or remarks over the last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Brown: “Well, to any kid out there from Pittsburgh, you know, Pittsburgh will always be my family. Those guys gave me a chance when I was a 21-year-old kid. Obviously, people listen to the things that are being said and written but at the end of the day it’s all about how you make people feel. I think I made people feel really great and really inspired the way they watched me go to work, the way they watched me play. I know Steeler Nation is having a bad day today, but it’s always love. I encourage every kid who watched me work and were inspired by everything I’ve done that I hope to continue to be a good example, continue to be a good role model and continue to inspire people all over.”

Q: What makes you think you can bring a winning culture here?

Brown: “I bring accountability. I bring actions. Not what I say, what I do. How I approach things. Holding guys accountable in the receiver room, developing the pot, challenging guys if you drop a ball we are going to have a pot, just super accountability. Maybe at the end of practice when I’m doing my jugs machine they will bring the whole group over to see the jugs machine, that way every guy in the group know we counting on you to make that catch. I’m there watching you work making that catch too because when we are all there, we are all there together. Bringing some of the principals and some of the things that make good comradery and build good teams are some of things I know, which is whatever is needed. Being here, being a leader and taking hold of this thing full rounded.”

Q: Where does your work ethic come from?

Brown: “It come from my grandma and my family. I have never been content. Always being hungry, no matter what stage you getting in life you always got to progress and grow. No matter what I do it’s always a fresh slate, a restart, a refocus and never getting content just always getting better each day.”

Q: When the Raiders drafted Amari Cooper, you said he was the vertical threat the team needed. Wwhen you traded him, Mark Davis said he didn’t fit your system. Do you need to adjust your system to accommodate Antonio’s skill set?

Gruden: “I’m not sure what the point of your question is regarding Amari Cooper…No, we won’t have to adjust anything with this guy, and we didn’t have to adjust much with Amari, but this is not about comparing receivers today. We want to continue to improve this football team, we don’t want to have a good receiving core, I want to have the best receiving core in football. I think to have the best, you got to have the best, and in my opinion, we acquired the best wide receiver in football and let’s get to work.”

Q: How much did Jon Gruden being here have an effect on your decision, and how strange is it knowing you will only be in Oakland one year before going to Las Vegas?

Brown: “Well, Mr. Gruden played everything in my decision to come here. Obviously, he is an offensive guru, you get excited just talking with him. He got so much knowledge of the game. He’s coached some of the greatest players ever, so he knows what it takes. He’s done been around the game, from in the game, outside the game and his knowledge is so amazing. He did his homework on me. He done seen every play I’ve played in, every interception. He got the details. He is a highly professional guy. Always makes sure you are highly prepared, he covers every variable when he studies players. Just sitting with him he spoke to 16 interceptions, he doesn’t want to talk about what you do well. He always wants to focus on the things that we can do to be even that much more better, and when you have a coach like that it’s like your dad. You want to be around him because you know he’s not going to build you up for what you’re doing, he’s going to encourage you on how you always could get better. When you got a guy like that who is always going to help you improve and grow that’s the type of guy you want to be around and that’s the type of guy you want to play for. For me to be here in Oakland, a part of the Oakland Raiders and be able to be on the last team that’s ever going to be here in Oakland, it’s something special in itself. So, it’s pressure in that, it’s excitement in that and there is a lot that comes with that, and I’m here today ready to embrace all that.”

Q: After coaching some historical Raiders wide receivers, what excites you about Antonio Brown and what he can do with Derek Carr?

Coach Gruden: “Well, I get excited because of where this man comes from – I think the sixth round, wasn’t a Division I (guy), he did it the hard way. He’s done everything in his power to be the best he can possibly be – on and off the field. His body of work is not only impressive, it’s fun to watch. He’s electrifying after the catch, he’s a great competitor, he wins the 50-50 ball, he’s outstanding in short areas. You have a great imagination as a football coach when you coach a man like this. He can play split end, he can play flanker, he can play in the slot, he can return punts and sell popcorn at halftime. (laughter) We’re excited about this guy. We’re going to put him to good work. He’s got his whole army here with him. He’s got ‘Auto’ (Autonomy) and Ali, Apollo, I’m going to get all of these young Browns to work here too. Just the life that he has, his enthusiasm to play is contagious. When we signed Antonio Brown, you’d be shocked at how many other player have wanted to come along with him. It’s really been a great experience.”

Q: How much of your decision had to do with your family being in the best environment?

Brown: “That’s the most important key. At this point, it’s all about family and making sure that family is in the right environment. Coach Gruden has been nothing but family, welcoming my family, even acknowledging and knowing my family just speaks tremendous volumes of what type of person he is outside the business. When you have a guy who knows your family, who shares that type of love with you, you’re going to put your heart on the line for him and give them whatever it takes for us to be in a great situation. Because, now he’s my family, we’re one family and we’re here for Raider Nation to give it my all and be the best we can be.”

Q: How much have you improved your offense in the last couple days and are you still in search of a running back?

Mayock: “I think the moment Antonio walks in our building we get better on offense. I think our quarterback gets better, I think our offensive line gets better. I think the entire football team gets better and I’m talking about on Sundays and I’m talking about having an alpha male in the locker room seven days a week. That’s what I believe. As far as the running back situation is concerned, we’re always looking to get better at every position. Free agency is starting to draw slowly to a close over the next couple days and weeks. We’ll focus ahead in the draft at every position.”

Q: What does Trent Brown bring to the offense?

Mayock: “Oh, man. Coach and I watched an awful lot of film on Trent with the entire coaching staff. And if you watch him in the playoffs against the Chargers, watch him against Kansas City, the teams we have to play in our division. Watch him play football in those games and you come away saying, regardless of whether he’s a left tackle or a right tackle, we’re not even going to address that today, the bottom line is that we got way better on our offensive line. Derek Carr got better, Antonio Brown got better, the whole team got better.”

Exclusive photos of Antonio Brown's first day at Raiders Headquarters in Alameda, Calif.

Q: Can you take us through when you were trying to seal the deal in acquiring Brown?

Mayock: “We weren’t even in on the process until Friday. I’m not going to get into specifics, but the bottom line is that I think Pittsburgh wanted a certain pick, we weren’t going to be able to get there. When that deal fell through with Buffalo, we got involved and I’ll tell you a couple things: I thought Kevin Colbert from Pittsburgh did a great job in getting this thing close. I think Drew Rosenhaus was amazing because there were some times where I wasn’t sure if we were going to get there or not. Any time you have a high-profile negotiation like this, there are points to be made by both sides. You have to get through some things. Drew did a great job keeping this thing alive. I’ve never seen a better connection between a player and a coach than when these two got together. I mean, Jon had 400 clips of Antonio with the offense. I walked in this morning, the two of them were sitting in there like little kids watching 400 cut-ups of Antonio – everything he did. I mean, they were like little kids in the laboratory. And that’s why we’re so excited.

Gruden: “The truth is Mark Davis invited Mike and I and our wives to an event in Las Vegas. So, I was excited to get Mike out of the building. We went to Las Vegas, it was a great event. Mandy Mayock, my wife, Cindy and I, instead of having a nice double-date, we dated Rosenhaus and Antonio Brown. Never saw our wives, but it’s as happy as Cindy and Mandy have been since we’ve known them when Antonio agreed. So, we thank you brother. (laughter)”

Q: How do the moves you have recently made speed up the process in getting the team back to where you want it to be?

Gruden: “There’s a lot of urgency. I hope people feel that since I’ve been here. I think every coach in the league would express the same thing. We have obvious areas on this roster that we want to improve, and Mike Mayock being here, I don’t want to make him mad, but he’s made a huge impact on this organization since he’s been here. This trade has his finger prints all over it. We’re going to make a couple more moves I believe in free agency that have his finger prints all over it. It’s been a blast. We’ve gotten better, we have some resources in the draft that can continue that process and as I’ve said all along, I don’t think you can rush this. You have to do what you deem is right. Players don’t become available all the time. You can’t make all the necessary improvements. It takes a little bit of time. But, we’re confident that we’re heading in the right direction.”

Q: Can you detail your work habits before, during and after practice?

Brown: “Well, I’m really regime oriented. I have a perfect system I like to run. I have my chef here, my trainer here, Tony, a team of people that make sure I can just focus on being my best. I surround myself with great people so that all I can worry about is performing, being my best when I walk in the stadium and just not having to worry about the kids doing this, the wife doing this. I have people who will make my life simple. When I go home today, my chef will have the food ready. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat. I don’t have to worry about when I’m going to train, I have Tony in my corner to make sure he’s going to hold me to high standards to be in tip-top shape. My chef is going to make sure I’m eating the right meal to that I’m able to perform. Just having the right team of people that can hold me to high standards, making sure I’m at a high level and when I hit the practice field, that’s the fun part because we already put the icing on the cake and did all of the necessary tweaks and balances to make me the player I know I can be. I have a great team, I’m excited to share my team with everyone here. If the food is bad here, my guy is willing to cook. I mean, I’m here to help the program in all regards. I’m here to make guys better around me. I’m here to help elevate everything around me. I’m here to just be a surge of energy, of positivity and a good force, a great teammate and bring out the best in everyone around me. We all know it’s not just about me. It takes 11 on each side of the ball and it takes special teams. It’s a unit. I’m just here to encourage, to set a tempo. Every catch I make, I’m going to the end zone, I’m jogging back. You guys will get to know me and I hope every guy in line behind me is going to take that same approach. Because if we all hold each other accountable, we’ll be a better organization. It’s not about me being successful, it’s about the organization being successful. I think if the organization is successful, than I will be successful.”

Q: Obviously, you guys made a huge addition on offense in free agency. Does this allow you to go into the draft and focus on defense?

Mayock: “I think we need to get better everywhere. Whenever you make significant signings, what it does from a team needs perspective is maybe it allows you to concentrate in some other areas. I’ve always been a big believer in the draft that value is value regardless of position. We’re excited about those first four picks in the first 35. That’s outstanding, but we have to hit everywhere else and that’s the game plan.”

Q: Have you guys reached an agreement with Tyrell Williams?

Coach Gruden: “I don’t have any update on that. Obviously, it’s a topic that is out there in the media. I don’t have any information on that other than we’re looking into his situation.”

Q: How do you look at coming in and guiding some of the younger guys to the standard at which you hold yourself?

Brown: “My plan is to get around here. Get in the room. Start holding guys accountable. Let them know there’s a certain type of standard here now that we have to uphold. Receivers we need the accountability system. Drops, lates, fines, missed routes, missed sights, we’re going to hold each other accountable. If you don’t fall in that accountability, you get fined. So when Derek Carr walks in the room and sees all of his receivers, this guy owes this, this guys owes this, so everyone has that accountability factor. For everyone held accountable we have to be at a certain standard. I’m just here to set certain standards, hold guys accountable. Just uplift the tradition of it’s unacceptable to accept not our best. That’s kind of my attitude. Still shaping the team. I can’t do it all in one day. This is a first start to kick off me being here and us doing some positive things moving forward.”

Q: Are you comfortable with where you guys are in relations to the salary cap?

Mayock: “I think the most important thing is to be sustainable over a long period of time. We’re good with the cap. I think the wild card in our planning, and I mentioned we spend an awful lot of time with free agency, the wild card was all of a sudden understanding that this guy might be available. That was the wild card. That was not in our free agent planning. When all of a sudden we realized we might have an opportunity to compete for his services, it changed everything. I think when you get a chance to…you’ve heard Jon talk about passion and love for the game. You’ve heard me talk about it. Both of us have watched this guy compete and play – if he sustains it – at a Hall of Fame level and he’s in the prime of his career, there’s nobody in better shape. When Jon and I had that first conversation in Vegas about potentially trading for the rights to Antonio Brown, there was no hesitation. Both of us thought his play spoke for itself, but even more importantly what it would do in the locker room and the energy around the building. On the heels of that, the Trent Brown thing was amazing. Coach Gruden kept talking about getting the Brown brothers. Trent was our No. 1 ranked tackle in this situation. He was also represented by Drew [Rosenhaus]. Drew was really important because there was a lot of competition for this guy. When the league season started or the open negotiation started on Monday morning, we had been prepared, ready to go and our department was. We had an offer ready to go and it was aggressive. Drew recognized it. It was one of the few teams that Trent wanted to go to. I think what you’re saying and what I’m most excited about is when Antonio Brown endorses the Oakland Raiders and then a Trent Brown jumps in and then Lamarcus Joyner jumps in on top, there’s not only an energy in the building, but all of a sudden there’s this energy around the NFL where other players want to come here. We’ve had an awful lot of phone calls in the last 48 hours that are just exciting. Again, is it sustainable? Yes. Are we going to be able to spend this kind of money in the forceable future? No. We’re very comfortable where we are against the cap.”

Q: How familiar are you with Gruden’s system?

Brown: “He’s a Gruden Grinder. He’s going to study every detail. He’s going to study every precision. He’s going to put you in situations to be successful. We already been talking about different formations to line me up at different positions. Different verbiage that we could use so I could get lined up faster. He’s a real genius at offense. He’s an offensive guy. He loves offense. He’s really smart. Just the details of how he studies. As we told you earlier today, he had a clip with 400 plays with details on every play. Even the good and the bad. He rarely talks about the good one, he always focuses on the bad [saying], ‘Hey, you had an interception right here. It was a back shoulder throw right here. What happened?’ He’s always searching for the ceiling. He’s never content if you’re the best. There’s constant improvement. He’s constantly improving and growing. That’s the guy you want to be around.”

Q: I think the owner of the Washington Redskins once said about George Allen, ‘I gave him an unlimited budget and he exceeded it.’ How close are you to that?

Mayock: “We have nowhere near an unlimited budget. Again, the curveball that came out of nowhere thankfully was Antonio. What it really comes down to, Jerry, is you have a finite number of dollars. How do you want to spend it, right? When he became available potentially to us, we kind of had to take that sheet of paper out and relook at it as to how many players we thought we could successfully chase or not. He was kind of the trigger to the rest of what we did. I think hindsight will be 20/20 a year from now, but we feel like we upgraded the Raiders with three big signings and we’re excited to keep working on it.”

Q: How many more years do you think you have as a top receiver in this league?

Brown: “My goal here really is to catch Jerry Rice. Playing with a guy like Coach Gruden, obviously, he knows what it takes to keep me upright and fresh and keep me out there for a long time. It’s [inaudible] it’s a challenge every year to prove my love for the game. I’m just taking it one year at a time. Obviously, my goal in the back of my mind is to catch Jerry Rice. Every year I have to prove my love, so this year I’m out here to prove my love in what I can do and what I can be. Nothing in the NFL is ever guaranteed, set in stone. I know these guys believe in me, but it’s a lot for me to prove here. I’m here to prove who I am and what I stand for. Not just my words, but my actions. Hopefully you guys see what I’m about, not more so what I say, but more so what I do.”

Q: Have you thought about what your first leap into the Black Hole will be like?

Brown: “I was at the park earlier, throwing some routes, and some guys from Oakland were out there watching. They were pretty excited when I caught one long pass. They were excited for me to jump in the Black Hole. I’m looking forward to the experience. I’m looking forward to leaping into the Black Hole, get our fans excited, celebrating with Derek, celebrating with the guys. I’m just here today, just the beginning of a great journey. Hopefully you guys are excited moving forward.”

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