Once again, and to the surprise of no one, former Tampa Bay WR Antonio Brown has left the public with the task of trying to connect dots that seem to be sprinkled all over the map and unfortunately for a talented wide receiver with a checkered past, his career might be finished even though he is still productive.
Nary has there ever been a clean break out of town when it comes to Brown and his historic exits from various NFL teams he’s played for. Brown recently stripped out of his game uniform and equipment on the sidelines and skipped off the field in the middle of a game against the New York Jets. But just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, Brown showed no remorse for his actions, instead choosing to go on the offensive against the Buccaneer organization with accusations and information disseminated by his lawyers.
There is a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln that said, “Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Brown obviously has some issues and I understand his need to tell his side of the story. However, the big picture implications around the league have now removed all doubt. I do not think he will play again in the NFL.
Brown had a chance to recover from the half comical incident that happened last Sunday at MetLife Stadium but the still sad litany of events overshadowed what would otherwise have been known as another great fourth quarter comeback by Tampa Tom (Brady) in a win over the lowly Jets.
Players run out of chances when they can’t perform on the field anymore. That’s not the case with Brown. He still has the skills and may find his way on another roster somehow, someway. I just could not sign up my team for any of the circus that comes with him.
His decisions and subsequent actions after the game, whether justified or not, have now eliminated that option for the majority of teams. There are times to tell your side of the story and to be heard and there are times you must bite your lip. It’s clear that Brown could not do the latter. I realize that its harder and harder in this day and age to “take the high road” but unfortunate actions, without any degree of accountability, still do bring repercussions.
As a team builder, I would love to have the skill set that Brown brings to the table. He’s sudden off the line of scrimmage and once underway, he can eat up a cushion vs a defensive back with an explosive burst. Brown can change speeds mid route and he still shows the body control to get in and out of breaks like few others in the entire league. He not only catches balls in his hands but he can also extend his arms away from his body to make contested catches. Brown plays much bigger than his measureables would indicate. He adjusts to long balls with ease even when the throw is not perfect. Said another way, he’s a QB’s best friend.
All of these reasons are why Tom Brady cleared out a space in his own house to allow Brown to join him and break bread with his family. Brady went to bat for him with the entire Buccaneers organization last year. And guess what, the Antonio Brown experiment in Tampa worked UNTIL IT DIDN’T.
Depending on your point of view, the blame for Brown’s fall can be shared by all OR by nobody. Thanks to him, the Buccaneers have their Lombardi Trophy in the case and tucked away. Bringing back AB was always going to be problematic. Perhaps all along, it was only a matter of time before it imploded. Brown’s situation wasn’t IF it was just WHEN. And as the Buccaneers found out, the harsh reality is that sometime a team has to know when to walk away from the table with chips in their pocket.
In my opinion, had Brown just left the stadium in New Jersey (even after all the drama on game day) and kept the blame game to a minimum, some other team could still see his skill set as an asset. The injury itself and the alleged back and forth that has followed has now taken a return to the NFL and put it in real doubt regardless of his skill set.
There is enough smoke here to justify AB’s case without him having to continue a trail of tweets that make him more toxic than ever. It’s not what he is saying, it’s just the act of continuing to say it that are making things worse for him.
Because of Browns statements it forced the Buccaneers to then give their side (per head coach Bruce Arians) of the story, which I do not think they would have or wanted to do, had Brown just “gone quietly”.
When a coach challenges a player’s health, it’s a slippery slope. The doubt exists as enough of a reason to trigger AB’s action. His toughness or his ability to play through pain is clearly subjective and really can only be measured by the man it effects. That would not have kept him from being an option for another team down the road IMO, after all the dust had settled.
However, throwing your head coach, your general manager, your quarterback, and his trainer under the bus will prove to be too much for Brown to overcome regardless of his elite skill set.
In the NFL, the high road is less traveled because most athletes feel they are somewhat entitled when put in a corner or embarrassed publically and therefore, can’t set aside their pride. We have all had that choice to make. Standing up for our own case is honorable, but comes with a price. In AB’s situation, he is now a risk that few, if any, charged with running an NFL team can consider taking, no matter his ability.
None the less, I am hopeful a person that Brown trusts can be identified and must be willing to help his or her friend. Without quality support, Brown could soon dig himself a hole he can’t get out of with his life. Surrounding oneself with enablers can no longer be an option. We all can only hope.