For some of my readers, this topic is about someone many never heard of or if they did, could care less about. But to NFL football fans and probably some do-gooders with some psych background, it is a most interesting subject, and one with which there is a lot of disagreement. First, the facts.
Antonio Brown is a football receiver with an incredible amount of talent in catching a pass and turning that reception into yardage and often touchdowns for his professional teams. When I say teams, I mean just that. He was first drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers and played with legendary quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers made it to the Super Bowl, but lost to Green Bay.
Following numerous clashes with members of the Steeler organization, Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders where he was similarly released after butting heads with that team’s management as well.
He was then signed by the New England Patriots but played only one game. There were allegations by a woman accusing him of sexual harassment that went public, and the Patriots cut him.
Brown then signed with the Buccaneers in 2020 after serving a suspension for violating NFL policy on personal conduct. The Bucs won the Super Bowl with Brown catching a touchdown pass in the win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
So, what, you say? Well, then you must have missed the performance he put on last Sunday in the second-to-last regular season game for the Bucs.
With his team trailing in a most important game in the third quarter, Brown went into a rage, tore off his jersey, then his pads, and even his undershirt which he then threw to the crowd, and promptly sauntered off the field. It made national news. Brady and his team did manage to eke out a victory.
Now the rest of the story becomes a bit confusing.
This season, Brown had appeared in only seven games amid injuries, testing positive for COVID-19 and had a three-game suspension for providing a falsified vaccine card. But what led to the outrage? Clearly Brown had had an ankle injury but had been cleared medically to play that day.
According to Brown, he was not being “targeted” enough that game. That means to be the intended pass receiver.
So what again?
Well, Brown claims he has a contract that if he reaches certain goals with regard to catches, yardage and touchdowns, he could receive up to an additional $1 million bonus.
With only a few possible games left, he believed there was a plan to have him fall short of those goals.
He also claimed that his ankle was killing him and he felt he couldn’t go back in the game when told to. He believed that they had no empathy for his injury and had given him endless and dangerous painkillers in order for him to play. But didn’t he wait four days to even mention the “injury”?
In the third quarter of this very important game, Brown exploded along the sidelines and threw his temper tantrum. The Bucs coach, Bruce Arians, is said to have heard Brown say just before losing it, “I ain’t playing” and “I ain’t getting the ball.”
That is when the coach responded, “You’re done. Get the [expletive] out of here. And that’s the end of it.”
He may have said that Brown was no longer a Buc. Brown was not officially terminated until the following Thursday.
Brown has now claimed that this delay in actually firing him was so that no other team who might make the Super Bowl could sign him up.
Buc’s quarterback, Tom Brady, has responded to all of this with empathy, stating that Brown needs help, indicating without actually saying it that Brown is having some serious mental health issues. Brady adds that he needs compassion. One might ask why this help wasn’t put in place before he was signed, but then winning the Super Bowl is pretty important to teams and their owners.
These issues with Brown are not new. Brown has had multiple acts of misbehavior. He even had burglary charges against him, to which he pleaded no contest and got probation. He was sued by his former female trainer, Britney Taylor, for sexual abuse and even rape. That lawsuit was settled out of court.
Who is wrong here? Does a football team owe a duty to make sure that a player gets the proper mental health as well as physical medical attention? A good question.
Who do you believe here?
The Bucs are firm that when a player won’t play, they can terminate him. Arians claims that none of the medical staff on the sideline heard one complaint that the ankle was giving Brown any problem that day. Perhaps the injury was to his ego when he wasn’t being thrown enough passes.
On the other side of the ledger, what the heck were the Bucs thinking?
Here was a player in 2020 with a list of reasons not to sign him, yet they did. No doubt receiver Mike Evans and tight end Rob Grabowski were hobbling from time to time this season. They needed another top receiver. So, they stayed with Brown all this time. Perhaps they got what they deserved as well.
Here, in my opinion, is the bottom line. Players are paid huge amounts of money to play football. The risks are enormous with what we know now about CTE and the damage to the brain after all these collisions, as well as all the tough physical injuries. No doubt Mr. Brown needs some serious mental health help, but as always, that has to start with the individual, not the team.
Who said what doesn’t help unless there is a lawsuit for wrongful termination. But think about this: An ankle injury so severe that he couldn’t enter the game? How does that coincide with the dancing antics he did on national television doing jumping-jacks across the end zone after pitching his uniform to the crowd on his way to the locker room. On that terribly injured ankle. Sorry, I go with the coach.