W hat a year for Antonio Brown. He’s now been on three teams in the span of a year, and the star wide receiver has done it in an unorthodox way. From Pittsburgh to Oakland to now New England, this saga of events has been undeniably stressful for all NFL fans, especially for the Steelers and Raiders.
I’m all for players doing what they can to get leverage on teams when contracts are involved. Unlike the NBA and MLB, NFL contracts aren’t fully guaranteed and with football being the most physical of the three major sports in the U.S., players need to get as much money as they can. Careers are usually short as the average player only lasts three years, according to Statista. Players need to receive their worth.
For this reason I sided with Antonio Brown when he forced his way out of Pittsburgh knowing he did it for the $30 million fully guaranteed in his contract. The guaranteed money in his contract with the Steelers had dried up, and I don’t doubt the tension he had with Stelers quarterback Big Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Ju-Ju Smith Shuster made the situation any better.
It wasn’t the best of ways, but other star receivers have forced their way out of teams before. Just ask Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Brown definitely burned some bridges he won’t get back, but he got what he wanted, right?
Or so we thought. Once Brown was traded to the Raiders for a third- and fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, he was all smiles. He posted numerous pictures and videos of loving becoming a Raider, embraced John Gruden as the coach and showed up at Oakland quarterback Derek Carr’s house to embrace him and let the world know that was “his” quarterback. And in all honesty, he probably genuinely felt that way too.
With the money he was going to receive and a quarterback he felt could throw him the football and get him the stats he desires to be remembered as the best, how couldn’t he be?
Then he starts practice and it doesn’t take long for Brown to be unavailable. He runs into an issue of having his feet frostbitten after being in a cryo-chamber for recovery purposes because he didn’t wear shoes. As someone who has seen Brown on his Instagram and YouTube workout videos as well as what his teammates have publicly said about him, it’s hard to believe it was on purpose. It doesn’t draw a red flag, and it’s treated like a bad accident, but in hindsight it was just a precursor to a multitude of other events that led to where we are today.
Brown forced his way out of Oakland after having disputes about his helmet not being in regulation with the NFL rules anymore and even had a verbal altercation at practice with Raiders GM Mike Mayok. It all felt like it was going downhill until Gruden announced Brown would not face suspension for his actions and publicly apologized for it all. With the Monday night football game coming up, I for one was sure once football started these things would go away and Brown would stop embarrassing himself in the media.
Once I felt this sports drama was finally over and people would stop talking about Antonio Brown, he was released by the Raiders after Oakland was told his punishment for his actions cost him his guaranteed money. And we know the main reason he came to Oakland was to receive that money.
The big question is why did he do all those things if it jeopardized his main goal? I believe he practiced with the Raiders and came to the underlying conclusion that Carr was not the quarterback he wanted, and the Raiders weren’t the team he wanted to be on.
Brown went for the money, and that’s not a bad thing. But he didn’t realize what he was getting into, as he’s seen what good teams look like being with the Steelers organization his whole career and decided the Raiders weren’t one of them.
I applaud Brown for going for the money, but at the end of the day it was more than the money. It was more about being the face of a franchise. It occurred to him winning and being recognized as one of the best the NFL has ever seen were important.
He has now signed with the New England Patriots and has one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL throwing him the football, on a team just coming off a Super Bowl. He doesn’t have nearly the amount of money he would have had in Oakland and is only on contract for a year.
I can’t agree with what he did to force his way out of Oakland and don’t condone other players to do the same. It creates a bad environment for the league and sets a bad example for other players that aren’t on “superstar status.”
The big question is, after it’s all said and done and Brown finds his way to a Super Bowl championship , was it worth it?