By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – September 6, 2019)
It’s a wrap. Antonio Brown is the most powerful man in the Raiders organization. Even Mark Davis, who might have money and a title, no longer can claim to run the franchise?
You may be thinking I’m exaggerating, but how else do you react when you look at the list of problems and issues Antonio Brown has caused, up to and including threatening General Manager, Mike Mayock, and playing Monday night against the Denver Broncos in the season opener?
On The Big 6 two weeks ago, I asked when exactly accumulation of incidents becomes concerning? The red flags surrounding AB, a no doubt hall of fame talent, are staggering in quantity. Folks, we’ve entered uncharted territory. Even Terrell Owens at his worst didn’t have THIS degree of question marks surrounding his mental well-being. We knew he was self-absorbed and a diva, but that’s also been a hallmark of the position, with far more Chad OchoCinco/Johnson/OchoCinco types than Larry Fitzgerald types. Here, we may have the worst of all, because we didn’t really ask whether those guys wanted to play football.
That has been the question surrounding Antonio Brown since the trench foot debacle and the helmet mess. It seemed as if AB not only didn’t have much interest in camp, but was willing to just not play if it wasn’t his way. He told Jeff Darlington of ESPN back in March that if someone wanted him to play, they’d do it “by my rules.” And, those rules include living with Brown being flaky, undependable, and a complete basket case of a personality. There IS too much baggage, regardless of talent, but only certain people (or in this case, football teams) are willing to fight the urge to bite anyway.
I overpack for every trip, without fail. I’m the guy that the cartoon would depict sitting on the suitcase to zip it shut. I have accepted this reality and I embrace this about myself. But, one of the reasons I overpack a bag is to avoid having to lug a second bag around. The Oakland Raiders have discovered what the Pittsburgh Steelers recognized long ago: Antonio Brown is the best luggage you can buy, but it’s not one bag, it’s not two, it’s not even ten… it’s every last remaining bag in stock at your store of choice.
How much can you carry, even if you can afford it? And if you do get it there, if you have the space for it, how much can you deal with on the return trip or how much can you fit in the hotel room?
Mike Mayock may as well resign and try to get his gig back at the NFL Network. Jon Gruden is amidst an absurd decade-long contract, and he has a history in the league, so he can survive, even if he loses a bit of respect in the process. But Mayock, who AB threatened to punch in the face on Wednesday, now exists to be nothing more than a feckless yes man with no authority. But, as many have accurately pointed out, that was true from day one. That’s why he got that job, to make it easier for Chuckie to make the decisions he wanted.
The best part of that episode has to be that Vontaze Burfict of all people was the one pulling Brown back and telling him to get himself under control. VONTAZE BURFICT WAS THE VOICE OF REASON. This is the same Vontaze Burfict that has been fined over $100,000 in his NFL career for unsportsmanlike conduct, including the very hit some believe left Antonio Brown not just concussed, but psychologically changed forever.
Here’s a prediction for you. Monday night, Antonio Brown will play well, because he’s an incredible football player. His talent will overcome some things, but ultimately it will rot the core of the Oakland Raiders organization, right up until the point he leaves the team. The next step in the process, if recent history is a guide, is that IF AB struggles at all or IF the Raiders aren’t winning a lot of games, Derek Carr will be the target. Brown was vitriolic towards Ben Roethlisberger, a hall of famer and two-time Super Bowl Champion.
Derek Carr… we’re not even sure his own head coach wants him as the starting QB.
He will be Brown’s punching bag on social media or anywhere else, unless the Raiders go 12-4.
Spoiler alert: They won’t be. 4-12 is more likely. I’ll give them 6 wins. I also think it’s 50/50 whether Brown is still a Raider by the end of this season. And if he is, we’ve definitely hit “I wouldn’t put it past him” territory with AB. That’s the worst thing someone can say about you is that they would believe virtually anything they hear about you, even with limited knowledge or sourcing.
Not a word could be written or spoken reporting on Antonio Brown that we would not at least think COULD be true or PROBABLY is true. That’s bad folks.
AB has destroyed his legacy. The Raiders have chosen to castrate themselves, genuflecting to someone who proved on Hard Knocks that he only wants to be around people that love him blindly and never criticize him. He’s been taught through all of his antics that he’s good enough to get away with this, so why would he think it to be wrong? He apologized on Friday to his teammates and to the franchise because he wants that guaranteed money and there was no real out just yet.
I would love to think this story is over, but it’s not. I want to see AB crush on the football field, but his brand, solely through his own words and actions, has become the red flags, not the touchdowns.