Simply put, the juice is no longer worth the squeeze. Antonio Brown quit on The Buccaneers Sunday in the middle of their game with the Jets and is no longer a member of the team.In all likelihood that was the final act of an NFL career that had been at time singularly unique because of his talent and production, but in recent years has been singularly unique in his ability to annoy every single team, coach and player that he’s come in contact with since the end of the 2018 season.
Just so people understand here’s how dominant Brown was when he was focused on what matters, performing on the football field. From 2013 thru 2018 Brown had 6 straight 100 catch seasons, and yeah that’s an NFL record. No other receiver in NFL history has more than 4 consecutive 100 catch seasons. But after that 2018 campaign Brown ticked off Mike Tomlin and the Steelers so much they were happy to let him walk out the door in a trade. They tried to ship him to Buffalo but Brown nixed that idea before eventually trading him to the Raiders. When I asked Mike Tomlin about it during the 2019 draft he said “ There’s been a cleansing if you will.”. In other words Tomlin felt the team was better without a record setting receiver than with him. Let that sink it. The Raiders then gave Brown a massive contract.. and he didn’t even make it to the 1st week of the season. A short stint in New England followed before allegations of improper personal behavior ended that one pretty quickly despite then Patriots QB Tom Brady personally lobbying for him.
Brown was picked up mid season by Tampa in 2020 and was a big part of the machine that took The Bucs to the Super Bowl and the win over The Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. He was re-signed for 2021 but was suspended this season by the NFL for allegedly having and selling fake COVID 19 vaccination cards. His Tampa career ended Sunday with his bizarre half naked walk off against The Jets after he was upset over being benched by Bruce Arians. Let’s just think about that for a second: Browns behavior has been so annoying that he’s had 3 of the greatest coaches of all time say “ we’re better off without him”. That’s an impressive list of NFL greats to want no part of you. Let’s also hold off on the social media diagnoses of CTE being the reason for his behavior. There is literally no way to diagnose that until after someone is dead and has donated their brain to science. And this is who Antonio Brown has been since he came into the league. There were many stories of all kinds of issues early on in his career in Pittsburgh. They didn’t come to light because.. IT WAS WORKING. The better you are the more people are willing to put up with. Winning, it's said, is the ultimate deodorant: it will cover up a multitude of sins. But everyone has a line that they cannot cross, and Brown danced across that line Sunday. What the future hold for Brown is uncertain, but he’s almost certainly played his last down of football in the NFL. He’s just..not.. worth it anymore.