Noted ESPN host Stephen A. Smith labeled troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown as “phony” after the latter asked the New England Patriots to re-sign him. Brown drew Smith’s ire after the wide receiver, through Instagram Live, called the Patriots to let him earn his salary on the field as they will pay him anyway. Smith, during an episode of ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, slammed Smith for making such a claim because his grievance against the Patriots is yet to be decided. According to Smith, the first word that comes to his mind when thinking about Brown is “phony” for claiming in an earlier ESPN interview that he doesn’t need football and the money.

“So now you’re talking about money and football. Really? Now that you’re not playing,” Smith said. Brown’s tenure with the Patriots was short-lived as he was cut 11 days after the team due to legal troubles. After the Oakland Raiders cut him before the start of the season, the Patriots signed him to a one-year deal worth $15 million.

Brown again expresses interest in returning to Patriots

In another post on Instagram, Brown again expressed his desire to return to the Patriots’ fold. Brown posted a photo of X-Men character Wolverine while holding and touching a picture frame. In the picture frame is a photo of Brown wearing his No. 17 jersey with the Patriots. Brown played just one game for the Patriots, catching four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in their 43-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.

However, Brown’s desire to return to the Patriots won’t happen, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Howe said there’s absolutely no chance for a reunion between the Patriots and Brown, based on what transpired on the day that the team released the 31-year-old wideout.

Brown recently filed grievance vs Patriots, Raiders

Brown recently filed grievance against the Raiders and the Patriots to claim around $40 million in unpaid salaries and bonuses.

From the Raiders, Brown was trying to recoup one week's salary worth $860,294, guaranteed money worth $29 million, and a $1 million signing bonus. The troubled wideout also challenged the $215,000 fine imposed on him for violating several team rules. Brown also wants the Patriots to cough up around $64,000 for his Week 1 salary and his guaranteed base salary of $1.025 million.

He also wants Patriots CEO Robert Kraft to pay his $9 million signing bonus. Earlier, sources disclosed that Kraft wouldn’t pay Brown after the wide receiver criticized him on social media for his arrest in a spa in Florida. Despite cutting Brown, the Patriots are left with a dead salary cap hit of $5.5 million this season and $4.5 million in 2020 from his one-year deal.