High school basketball coach Tim Notke once said, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
However, what happens when the talent works hard, but the personality has created an impasse towards success? Therein lies the conundrum for the Oakland Raiders when trying to alleviate the growing headache that is Antonio Brown.
The infamous helmet debacle seemed to be cooling down for the most part with the All-Pro receiver finally finding a model he likes. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Xenith Shadow isn’t going to guarantee them any protection for the future headaches that are to come.
Oh, did you think it was over?
Brown recently turned to social media and posted a private letter sent to him from the Raiders, informing him that he was being fined $13,950 for an unexcused absence at a walk-through on August 22. The letter also reiterates Brown being fined $40,000 for missing a Raiders preseason training camp practice on August 18.
Of course, the outspoken receiver wasn’t going to go quietly without a defiant chest-pounding and a scorching public response.
This entire ordeal is unfolding like an episode of “90 Day Fiance.”
The only difference is the Raiders have already exchanged their I dos. Those vows came in the form of a third and fifth-round draft pick offering to the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with a reworked $50 million contract with $30 million guaranteed on a three-year deal.
But don’t expect to see Brown making it to the end of that deal. No, he’s on borrowed time as long as his otherworldly talent will allow it. The Raiders will cut bait the moment the production doesn’t quite match the headache tolerance. When that day comes, Mr. Big Chest will be on the first plane ride out of Oakland.
I’m not talking about barely eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving, either.
Brown will have to resume his status as one of the best receivers in the league to keep the Raiders clinging to a marriage that has been on the rocks since the start of training camp. That won’t be an easy task for a 31-year-old player joining a completely different team with a new quarterback throwing him the ball. This isn’t the high-flying Steelers offense with Ben Roethlisberger behind center (Sorry, Derek Carr).
What happens if Brown isn’t targeted on the field as much as he’d like? How will he react if the team is losing, and he isn’t on pace for 100-plus receptions for 1,200-plus receiving yards? More importantly, how will Carr react? Will he start force-feeding Brown the football in an attempt to appease his demands on the field?
It’s a potential train wreck waiting to happen.
We also have yet to witness the eventual shouting match between Raiders coach Jon Gruden and Brown on the sideline (you know it’s coming). A clash of titans is almost sure to happen between the hard-nosed coach and diva receiver.
And when the dust settles, you better believe the $100 million coach will be the last one standing.
There have been so many excuses for Brown’s behavior relating to the helmet situation, most notably being impaired vision and performance concerns.
But did those concerns have to keep him off the practice field and force him to miss meetings with his teammates? He could have still shown up in shorts and been a limited practice participant, while the league looked over his grievances.
Perhaps the most disappointing part about the entire situation is how poor his first impression has been on his new teammates. Years of watching this mythological athlete achieve the impossible with the Steelers, only to see him lashing out and threatening retirement because he couldn’t wear the helmet he wanted.
The Steelers devoted eight long years to making it work with Brown, and the Raiders would be lucky to make it two years on a three-year deal.
Cue the violins as the Titanic sinks a short-lived love affair that was never built to last.
Update: Just minutes after completing this article, Antonio Brown was suspended by the Oakland Raiders after a confrontation with their GM.