The Antonio Brown saga has been one of the most interesting, funniest, frustrating, and saddest events to watch. It looks like Brown has finally had his wake up call.
The 2019/2020 NFL season has to be a season that Antonio Brown wants to forget, and I'm sure if it were up to the NFL they'd want us to forget about everything that happened to him this season as well.
It all started with a drama-filled offseason. After being traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders, Antonio Brown froze his feet, disputed with the Raiders and the NFL over the type of helmet he was allowed to wear. He had a screaming match with his general manager. He was released by the Raiders shortly after posting on Instagram that he wanted to be released. He signed that day with the New England Patriots. The next day he was accused of assaulting his former trainer. He played one game with the Patriots, then he sent the stupidest group text in the history of mankind. later that day he was cut by the Patriots and besides a workout with the New Orleans Saints one of the best wide receivers in the National Football League couldn't find a job.
Brown spent the entire season trying to lobby the Patriots to re-sign him through social media. He did this in between tirades about the NFL and about Patriots owner Robert Kraft for some of Krafts extracurricular activities at a particular massage parlour.
Brown called out the Saints when they didn't sign him after his workout and said that his workout was nothing more then for media attention. Brown forgot to mention that the Saints advised him not to show up with an entourage, and Antonio Brown showed up with an entourage, including a film crew. Just a couple of weeks ago he live streamed a confrontation with the mother of his children and the police, with his children standing around watching the horror of the whole ordeal. Then last week he was arrested and charged with battery after he and his trainer assaulted a delivery driver.
That was a lot in a very short period of time.
After all of that, the NFL and Commissioner Rodger Goodell at least publicly were still supporting Brown. During his end of year press conference, Goodell wasn't interested in discussing Browns future in football, but rather focussing in on Brown getting the help that he needs.
"The first thing for all of us is to think about the well-being of Antonio, to understand what Antonio's going through," Goodell said at the annual Super Bowl news conference on Wednesday. "We don't talk about the wellness of our players publicly, but I would tell you that you can be sure that the NFL and the (NFL Players Association) have a tremendous amount of resources that are available to all players. They're going to be made available to Antonio. We want to help get him on the right track and get him in a position where he thinks he can be successful in life."
Goodell saying those words could very much just be for show, but I also think that maybe the NFL and the nflpa should spend more time publicly talking about the supports that they do offer their players. When you go down the list of players with offield issues like Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon, Kareem Hunt, or even Aaron Hernandez, it may be better for public relations if the NFL were to be more open and honest about what they do to help their trouble players, especially when it comes to mental health and addiction.
As much as we want to look at this as a football issue, Antonio Brown also need to take accountability for his actions. People do things when they're suffering with mental health disorders or under the influences of different substances, but it can't be used as a crutch or an excuse for Brown's actions over the last six months. Brown has every opportunity to address his mental health if that is a contributing factor to his behaviour and he needs to take advantage of that help.
There have been rumors in the past that Antonio Brown suffers with PTSD because of events surrounding his childhood, and it feels like at times an organization like the NFL can foster some of these negative behaviours by not addressing the issues that the individual is dealing with and just surrounding them with money and notoriety. This is not an excuse for Brown's behavior, just simply an observation.
Brown for his part has finally started to see the errors of his ways. Over the last little while Brown has lost a lot. He no longer has legal representation or an agent, as both of them dropped Brown as a client, after his interaction with the police and his children's mother
This latest arrest seems to be somewhat of a wake up call for Brown. In an interview this week he publicly apologized to the NFL and took accountability for his actions. Brown even referred to himself as a cancer and he was happy that the NFL was still thinking about him and still wishing the best for him.
"I was pleased to hear that after 140 days that there was some positivity about me because as of late I've just been the cancer of the NFL," Brown continued. "The problem child, the guy who gets in trouble, the kind of guy who has the bad narrative about him."
“I think I owe the whole NFL an apology and my past behavior,” said Brown. “I think I could have done a lot of things better.”
Weather Browns apology gives any teams a motive to sign him is still to be seen, and at this point his football future is still very much up in the air. But it's a positive sign for an individual who up until now had taken no responsibility for his actions and blamed those around him to finally acknowledge that he was in the wrong. Brown is skeptical whether the NFL will actually help him and at this time I have to admit I am as well.
We've seen situations like with Josh Gordon where the NFL and the team he plays for will support him during recovery they will do things like pay for rehab and treatment. But the NFL seems more concerned about helping problem players when they're off the field, and as soon as the player returns to the field they expect them to to continue on with good behaviour. People like Gordon and Brown need constant support and oversight. They need assurance, and treatment doesn't stop. As much as Antonio Brown needs to take accountability for his actions so does the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders, the New England Patriots, and the National Football League.
Antonio Brown may have been a problem child this season but he's also made the NFL a lot of money. Prior to this year Browns jersey was always in the top 15 in Jersey sales. Browns jersey was the second highest grossing Jersey in Pittsburgh only behind Ben Roethlisberger while he was a Steeler.
Even though he can be a pain in the ass when he's off the field, his on field play does sell tickets. So as much as the NFL would probably just want to write him off and move on, they do have a responsibility to do their best to get him treatment. If Antonio Brown declines the treatment then I don't blame the NFL for giving up and moving on. But, simply saying that you're worried about Brown and doing nothing is not nearly enough.