The Curious Case of Antonio Brown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has once again made a dramatic exit. This time, it may be from the NFL.

Brown left the Buccaneers-Jets game on Sunday during the third quarter by ripping off his jersey and shoulder pads and tossing them into the stands. This explosion came after it was reported that head coach Bruce Arians tried to get Brown back in the game. Arians later commented that he was unaware why Brown didn’t want to re-enter the game.

“He is no longer a Buc.”

Bruce Arians, postgame interview

As of January 4th, Brown is still listed on the team roster as it is up to general manager Jason Licht to decide on the fate of the wide receiver with the organization.

Quarterback Tom Brady reportedly found out about the outburst after the game and urged people to show compassion.

“I’ve known Antonio for a couple of years now, pretty closely. We’ve obviously been teammates and I would just say that I love him, I care about him and I have a lot of compassion and I have a lot of empathy for the things that are happening in his life,” Brady said. “I’m going to continue to do everything I can to try and be a great friend and supportive to Antonio in the things he’s going through.”

Brown’s fall from his glory days with the Pittsburgh Steelers has been anything but pretty. From asking for a trade in 2019, to joining the Oakland Raiders, the sexual assault allegations and even the fake COVID-19 vaccination card, the list goes on and on. This has lead to many asking the same question: Why?

Is Brown suffering from a type of football related injury like CTE, or is he an unhinged man looking to cause problems?

Seeking a Potential Medical Diagnosis

Although Brown has not been diagnosed, there are players just like Brady rallying behind the troubled star to get him the help he may need. The latest to do so was Kanas City Chiefs wide receiver Daurice Fountain.

CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a degenerative brain disease commonly found in athletes that participate in physical sports. Symptoms can include impaired judgement, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and more. Many former players such as Aaron Hernandez, Philip Adams, Chris Henry and Junior Seau have been diagnosed with CTE.

In March 2016, the NFL publicly acknowledged the connection between the sport and the disease. When asked during a roundtable discussion whether or not there was a link between football and CTE, Jeff Miller, NFL’s senior vice president of health and public safety, had a simple response: “The answer to that question is certainly yes.”

Brown has previously discussed his struggles with mental health.

“We all need mental help. From our friends, from the people we hang around, from the people we consult with every day. Yeah, we need mental help.”

Antonio Brown via ESPN

The wide receiver was also asked in 2020 whether or not he believes he has the disease.

“Nah. If I had CTE I wouldn’t be able to have this beautiful gym, I wouldn’t be able to be creative. I wouldn’t be able to communicate.”

Too Big of a Personality

Maybe Brown and the NFL just don’t mix. By ripping off the jersey in the third quarter, this felt like a climax to a highly anticipated ending. No real arc, no real redemption story.

The Buccaneers, and the NFL, continued to ignore Brown’s red flags because all they saw were money bags. Even when Brown produced a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, Arians was quoted saying, “I could give a s— what [people] think. The only thing I care about is this football team and what’s best for us.”

Ignoring character flaws doesn’t make them go away.

Tampa Bay knew what they were getting with Brown when they signed him: A great football player with a not-so-great history of antics. Arians consistently backed that as long as he continued to be great, the past did not matter. However, it looks like the excuses have finally run out.

Brown hasn’t learned from his past mistakes and continues to live in his own world. He hasn’t sought help or worked to find solutions from the revolving door he seems to be trapped in.

He only sets himself up for the next big performance.

Photo: (Adam Hunger/AP Photo)

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