Antonio Brown managed to go next level self-sabotage this week, reportedly sending texts to a woman who accused him of unwanted sexual advances. Even an AB apologist would have to see the texts as idiotic. Menacing is probably a more apt description.
Handed a golden ticket to Foxborough and a season of touchdown passes and Super Bowl contention in front of him, Brown lasted just one game with the New England Patriots before getting fired. That is one more than he played for Oakland, which came on the heels of a no-show in Week 17 last year in Pittsburgh.
There are 29 more teams in the NFL for Brown to infuriate but he may have figured out a way to do the near impossible – become so untouchable that not even his Hall of Fame talent can save him.
Thirty-years old and Brown is still acting like a child. If he merited any sympathy it’d be a sad sight to behold. Instead he’s an accused rapist who is incapable of controlling himself or meeting even baseline societal norms.
Mental illness is about the only rational explanation, but who knows for sure. Maybe this is just who the guy is.
He forced his way out of Pittsburgh. He forced his way out of Oakland. He was so reckless and delusional he got forced out in New England. He may still find himself on commissioner Roger Goodell’s list where he’ll sit and watch his prime wither away. As ridiculous as Goodell playing sheriff for The Shield usually is, it might be for the best this time.
There are myriad questions that serve as warning flags.
Forget all the antics that got him out of Oakland. They were displeasurable and ugly, but if his goal was to get to a true Super Bowl contender then he isn’t the first.
Since then though, nothing has made sense. He clearly should have settled with his former trainer when she threatened a civil lawsuit alleging rape, among other sins. Yes, there is a chance he is innocent but at that moment, it was a business decision. Once that suit was filed, the spiral sped up. He risked everything.
The NFL launched an investigation last week which spelled potential doom to his dream rehab season with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Then Sports Illustrated did the background investigating the NFL and New England should have and brought up a litany of controversies. Domestic incidents. Throwing furniture off a 14th-floor balcony. Police interactions. Unpaid bills. And, most troubling, a female artist Brown hired claiming he made unwanted sexual advances at her. When she rebuffed him, she alleges he fired her.
Any reasonable adult would know to let the issue sit. This is especially true for someone with tens of millions of dollars on the line and a spotlight directed on him as he tried to prove he was reliable to his new team. The Patriots were willing to protect him to the fullest – as his minute-long meeting with the media showed.
Instead Brown reportedly set up a group text, which quite incredibly included his own lawyer, and began texting her directly, including photos of the woman and her children. At that point even the Patriots had to pull the plug. They’ll go try to win their seventh Super Bowl without him. He was a luxury gamble that blew up in their face faster than just about anyone could have predicted.
So what now for Brown? Players this good are rarely without a roster spot but it’s difficult to imagine how any team considers signing him now.
When the Patriots gave him another chance they thought they were getting a super talented malcontent who, like other super talented malcontents they’ve brought in through the years, would fall in line and make them unbeatable. This is different now.
Acting up to get away from Jon Gruden is one thing. Being accused of rape, then being accused of troubling behavior, then displaying additional troubling behavior via the text thread is inexcusable.
Does Brown really want to play football? That’s been a reasonable question to ask since he refused to show up for the Steelers. He did look happy in his one Patriots game, but it’s possible he was just going through the motions or was caught up in the excitement.
He could have kept his job with New England by literally doing nothing. Instead he couldn’t help himself. Or didn’t want to.
Perhaps his issues go deeper. It wouldn’t be the first time with a football player, or any walk of life. If he needs more significant help, then either he needs to demand it or someone around him needs to intervene.
Whatever it is the 2019 season has thus far been dominated by the actions of a single wide receiver, who now finds himself out of the league, potentially for a long time, if not for good.
It’s not a moment too soon.
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