Antonio Brown’s ego will cost him his career


Christian Petersen/Getty Images/TNS

Wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) of the Oakland Raiders warms up before an NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 15 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

By Kyle Saxon, for The Pitt News

To put it frankly, it seems that Antonio Brown has lost his mind.

But keep in mind, it wasn’t always this way. Brown is a former sixth-round pick from Central Michigan. He worked his tail off to overcome a childhood full of turmoil, accept a mid-major offer, get drafted and make an NFL roster. In his second season in the league, Brown not only made the Pro Bowl, but also landed a huge contract extension with the Steelers over the likes of Mike Wallace. “AB” — as fans call him — became one of the most beloved players in Pittsburgh.

For years, his talent shrouded any off-field issues. Just before the 2018 season, he threw an ottoman off a balcony, nearly striking a child, and was caught speeding at more than 100 miles per hour in the Pittsburgh area.

But on the field, Brown recorded his sixth-straight season of 100 or more receptions for 1,000 or more yards. Coming off a signature 14-reception, 185-yard, two-touchdown game against the Saints, Brown was primed to potentially propel the Steelers into the playoffs with a win over the Bengals week 17.

But Brown’s stellar performance against the Saints would be his last game in a Steelers uniform.

Brown got into an altercation with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at practice the following week, sat out a crucial game, demanded a trade and openly bashed Steelers ownership for their “preferential treatment” of the star quarterback.

One of the league’s best QB-WR relationships fell apart in the blink of an eye.

After being traded, Brown embraced the Oakland Raiders, and they embraced him. He got his way. He seemed to love his new quarterback, Derek Carr, new coach, Jon Gruden and new general manager, Mike Mayock.

But perhaps he embraced the term “Raider” too literally.

Brown’s name can be found in the headlines almost every week. He got frostbite on his toes, went missing in action for the first few weeks of practice and then returned as if nothing happened. He started an unnecessary social media feud with former teammate JuJu Smith- Schuster, all because Smith-Schuster said that he respected and admired Brown.

Yes, that is why.

The next step in the Antonio Brown saga came when he threatened to retire — over a helmet. The 31-year-old Brown refused to play if he could not wear his non-league-regulated helmet. In other words, he believed himself to be above league safety regulations. After many failed grievances and more missed practices, Brown begrudgingly settled on a league-approved helmet just recently.

But it doesn’t stop there. Fines came in Wednesday from Raiders general manager Mike Mayock for Brown’s missed practices. Brown took to Instagram to voice his displeasure and even accused Mayock of “hating” on him. Ouch.

A report released Thursday from Adam Schefter of ESPN said Brown and Mayock had a “heated” altercation and Brown even threatened to hit Mayock. Brown now faces a potential suspension and could lose $30.125 million of guaranteed money. Why? Because he received a fine for missing mandatory team practices.

In a March interview with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Antonio Brown calmly stated that he “doesn’t need football.” Brown’s career shows a pattern of behaving in just that manner — as if he’s bigger than the game.

Brown’s career appeared to be on a Hall of Fame trajectory. He is one of the best receivers in football today, if not ever.

But now, as a player like former Browns wideout Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi sleeps in a 24-hour gym and begs the Cleveland Browns to even get an NFL tryout, Antonio Brown arrogantly threatens to hit his general manager after missing mandatory practice.

The problem never had anything to do with Ben Roethlisberger or anyone else. The problem is Antonio Brown. He repeatedly allows his ego to consume his actions, and his career is now at risk because of it.

The kid from Central Michigan is long gone. The remarkable talent that used to cloud his personality no longer clouds anything. He has transformed from one of the most widely respected players in the league to one of the least.

The term “diva” has been used time and time again pertaining to football players with potentially uncontrollable personalities, usually wide receivers. Nobody epitomizes that identity better than Antonio Brown.

In Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin faced criticism for not reprimanding Brown’s antics. Pittsburgh allowed Brown to spiral out of control, and the consequences are clear. The Raiders cannot allow this to continue. Fines and speeches are not enough. Oakland, or any franchise for that matter, would be a fool to keep such a divisive and self-interested player if it intends to win football games.

Antonio Brown may think that he doesn’t need football. 

Today is his lucky day –– football no longer needs Antonio Brown.

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