The most curious aspect of Antonio Brown’s freaky Friday was not that he began the morning with an “emotional apology” to his Raiders teammates, or that he subsequently declared descriptions of his behavior were “blown out of proportion,” or that coach Jon Gruden described the Raiders as “ready to move on” after Brown returned to practice. It wasn’t even that AB released a video late Friday that looked as though it had been shot by Francois Truffaut, featured a private conversation between the player and Gruden and was punctuated by Brown’s statement, “I’ve been trying to be a Raider since Day 1.”No, it was that as all this occurred, the Raiders were deciding to take action that would void the $30 million in guarantees on Brown’s contract. They had to know what would happen if they pursued this. First, of course, they would no longer be on the hook for $30 million if Brown remained, well, AB.Second, that AB would return to unleash the full force of his AB-ness.MORE: Brown’s meltdown offers evidence that Steelers managed him proficientlyWhen Brown learned the Raiders had fined him more than $215,000 for conduct detrimental to the team, an action taken in response to Brown’s alleged threats toward general manager Mike Mayock at a team practice earlier in the week, he posted a demand to be released on his Instagram account.Oakland obliged Saturday with the shortest statement possible.The Raiders have released WR Antonio Brown from the team today.— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) September 7, 2019Though this latest maneuver by the Raiders can be viewed as shrewd, even necessary, in protecting the franchise from being stuck carrying the weight of that deal, it also is confirmation they were fantastically foolish to have pursued him in the first place.Despite the meager price of two mid-round draft picks, acquiring Brown last spring and signing him to a three-year, $50.1 million contract appeared reckless for a franchise in position to build toward success. When he began avoiding training camp over the contrived issue of a mandatory change to an NFL-approved helmet, it was a hint the Raiders were not equipped to handle their new wideout.The Steelers drew abundant criticism, from media analysts and their own fans, for gaining only a third- and fifth-round pick in exchange for Brown. But that low price is indicative of how wise the rest of the league was to avoid the team’s going-out-of-AB sale. Buffalo is believed to have offered more, but Brown declined to accept a deal to the Bills. The Raiders were about the only team in the market.Because the other teams knew. They’d seen how Brown comported himself over the past three seasons, particularly when he walked out on the Steelers in advance of a potentially decisive Week 17 game in 2018. Some might have been willing to accept a known quitter, figuring they could change him or at least make him useful, but not at a premium price.MORE: A timeline of Antonio Brown’s drama-filled summerOakland offered Brown an ideal situation, at least from a business perspective. He got a $16 million raise over what he’d have made during the same period in Pittsburgh. He got $30 million guaranteed, whereas most of his contract guarantees with the Steelers had expired. All he had to do was play ball, in every sense of the word. He hasn’t really done that since 2015, though. So the Raiders ought to have known they were risking this fiasco. Perhaps they figured it to be worth the gamble. And perhaps they needed to go through the motions of Friday’s performance art — allow his return, elicit his apology, deploy him in practice, then drop the contract hammer — in order to execute this exit strategy. With a season-opening game against the rival Broncos just days away, though, the Raiders made preparation for that game secondary to this sideshow.Brown is one of the most gifted receivers in the game’s history. That’s the shame of this. Had he remained with the Steelers and continued to perform, without incident, in the manner he had, he might have found himself in another Super Bowl and definitely would have cruised into the Hall of Fame. No player ever had six consecutive 100-catch seasons. Name the all-time great wideouts, and only Marvin Harrison caught more balls in his first nine years than Brown, who was ahead of Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald.The Raiders should have known better the course they were taking and had a better plan for how to manage Brown. “Break this in case of emergency” is not the way the best franchises operate.