If Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots couldn’t handle the swelling headache that is Antonio Brown, what other team could possibly succeed in taking on the disturbing baggage that comes with arguably the best receiver in football?
Someone out there will be naïve enough to try.
We’ve seen it time and time again in the NFL with players getting second, third and sometimes even fourth chances, depending on the talent. Of course, Brown has enough problems off the field that makes playing football seem so insignificant at the moment.
There’s the rape allegation and pending civil suit on one end, and on the other end, the league is reportedly looking into damning text messages allegedly sent by Brown in an attempt to scare another alleged victim also accusing him of sexual misconduct.
The texts were apparently the deal-breaker for the Patriots considering they were sent during his time with the team.
“The NFL and the Patriots clearly took our client’s concerns seriously,” lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz of Katz, Marshall and Banks said in a statement on Friday, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
“She wanted the threats and intimidation to stop and we hope that will be the case. The NFL has assured us that regardless of Antonio Brown’s roster status, it will continue to investigate all claims regarding his behavior.”
Despite the ongoing investigation, Brown hasn’t been suspended by the league, and he is capable of signing and playing wherever he wants.
If he does sign with a new team, the league would still have the option of stepping in and putting him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, which would essentially put him on paid leave, but that’s also a rare action when a player isn’t facing formal criminal charges.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has acknowledged Brown is already looking for his next opportunity.
Perhaps another team wouldn’t be bold enough to sign him right away, but assuming the civil suit drags out and the league doesn’t take any forcible action, someone will ultimately pick up the phone and take the gamble with the mere hope of the talent being worth it.
The sexual misconduct and rape allegations made by alleged victim Britney Taylor were graphically horrifying in description, and that still didn’t stop the Patriots from letting Brown suit up to play in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins.
In his debut with the team, he caught four receptions on eight targets to lead all Patriots receivers for 56 yards and one touchdown.
It would have been two touchdowns if not for a short-armed throw by Brady late in the game. He put up those numbers with limited knowledge of the playbook and only a few practices with Brady.
The Patriots have a long history of turning troubled athletes into model citizens, while also getting the best out of their talent on the football field.
Brown walked through the same hallowed hallways graced by legendary players such as Brady, Randy Moss, Ty Law, Andre Tippett and the late, great Junior Seau.
For nearly two weeks, he showed up on time and even said the right things when speaking to the media.
Then he allegedly sent out the group text on Wednesday night with pictures of the alleged victim and her children, directing an individual referred to as “Eric B” to “look up her background history [to] see how broke this girl is.”
The presumption of guilt before having an opportunity to be proven innocent is a dangerous road to go down.
But then there’s the simple fact that Brown isn’t 100-percent innocent in the numerous bad decisions that have taken the spotlight off his Hall of Fame-worthy career.
He has essentially gone from must-watch Sunday television to the league’s biggest pariah. You know the situation is bad when even O.J. Simpson is starting to make sense.
That was awkwardly enlightening.
The question now at least is what team willingly steps up to take on the headache. Which team is willing to chance the public backlash for one last attempt at eradicating the Mr. Big Chest persona and harnessing perhaps the greatest receiving talent since Jerry Rice?
You better believe there are general managers out there right now pondering the possibilities of having a generational talent in their system.
However, they better also weigh the potential fallout that would come with such a risk, which would be akin to walking through a burning building while carrying a stick of dynamite.
A seemingly game-changing move on a cheapened deal could go to hell in a handbasket.