Antonio Brown — First Unveiled The Masked Singer Contestant — Currently Embroiled in NFL Drama
Fox viewers were thrilled to see who was underneath the hippo costume on Wednesday’s premiere of The Masked Singer, but the coach and players of the Pittsburgh Steelers were likely less so.
Antonio Brown, the Pennsylvania football team’s wide receiver, took the stage when the episode was filmed in June, according to the Washington Post — just a few months before the 31-year-old athlete started skipping practices in late December and didn’t play in Sunday’s season-ending game that the Steelers needed to win in order to make the playoffs.
They did, but barely, and still missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Brown’s run on the new reality show was short-lived. After 12 celebrities sang and danced wearing head-to-toe costumes — Brown opted for “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown — the audience voted on the three best and three worst and then the worst of the bottom three. Brown was unveiled only because he lost. The other 11 contestants will move on, with one identity revealed each week.
Meanwhile, The Ringer reports rumors are swirling that the Miami native has asked for a trade, which his coach, Mike Tomlin, denied during a press conference on Wednesday. It took place only a few hours before the episode aired. Tomlin also said that Brown was absent from Sunday’s game “due to injury and lack of communication,” according to the Post.
CBS Sports reports that Brown allegedly got into a dispute with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last Wednesday, and afterward, he skipped all practices and team meetings. He showed up on Sunday expecting to play, but Tomlin reportedly didn’t allow it.
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According to the Post, Brown was seen at the game wearing a fur coat and left the Pittsburgh stadium at halftime. Tomlin said at the conference that he hasn’t spoken to the athlete since.
At the time of Wednesday’s press conference, Brown tweeted a picture of himself with the text: “My options may seem limited by people or circumstances. It is then I remind myself I am in command of my attitude. I am divinely blessed with free will. I utilize that gift, choosing to take charge of my life; to express the creativity, vitality and wholeness that truly define me.”
He’s made no formal statement about his professional controversy since The Masked Singer premiered.
Reps from the Pittsburgh Steelers did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.