Antonio Brown’s Immense Talent Is No Longer Worth the Immense Headache

Image: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So this is what it looks like when the answer for NFL teams when it comes to accepting Antonio Brown’s problematic ways—his talent—is no longer accepted. The extremely talented and extremely troubled wide receiver has set ablaze to what many believe was the last bridge between his mishap-waiting-to-happen ways and playing in the N.F.L.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians announced on Sunday that Brown, “is no longer a Buc,” shortly after Brown—while the game was in progress, no less—took off his shoulder pads, and tossed his T-shirt into the stands before jumping into an Uber for who knows where.

The dramatic, over-the-top way in which Brown left, is so on brand for how he has been throughout his NFL career as far as making decisions that make little to no sense to anyone but Brown.

Unwrapping what has gotten Brown to this point where his talent is no longer great enough to co-sign on the bizarre, never-ending head-scratching decisions he makes, is like the man himself—very complicated.

There is a mental health component in all this which hasn’t gotten enough traction from him or those who have employed him. Considering the long and lengthy list of illogical decisions he has made off the field, addressing his mental health should have been a prerequisite to any conversations about him playing, especially by the time he was available to be picked up by Tampa Bay after having been cut by two teams (the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots) in less than a month.

Team after team have seen his career careen out of control, thinking that football would be the necessary safe haven to hone in his talent, his focus, his life.

They were wrong.

It may have been that for him at one time.

But when Brown decided to chuck his shoulder pads to the ground on the Buccaneers sideline, toss his T-shirt into the stands and start parading around the damn football field with no shirt on, even with it being an unseasonably warm New York City day in December—football no longer mattered to him.

You would think having had a day like that might make one try and keep a relatively low profile for the time being, right?

So what does Brown do?

He shows up the next night sitting courtside at a nationally televised Brooklyn Nets-Memphis Grizzlies basketball game.

There will be plenty of folks who will see Brown’s actions as a cry for help, and that there needs to be a certain amount of empathy given to him because of that.

Here’s the thing about help.

It only works if those who need it, at some point embrace that it’s needed. Brown isn’t there yet and frankly, may never get to that point.

The NFL, which for years might as well have stood for the Not For Long league when it came to giving players like Brown a second (and third, and fourth…) chance because of his talent, appears to finally be fed up with him.

As talented as his Hall of Fame-worthy resume may be (and that’s gonna be a hard sell because of his off-the-field antics, like this weekend), none of the NFL’s 32 teams should embrace him into their locker room now.

It’s clear he’s not interested in getting help for himself in dealing with whatever issues he’s dealing with off the field, and that complicates any team’s pursuit of him.

For years, his talent was the answer to their question as to whether bringing him into the fold would help them win.

Today that question is irrelevant.

Because the gravity of him having made one poor and pathetic decision after another, doesn’t measure up, at least in the eyes of the NFL and its teams, to him committing the greatest sin of them all in sports—quitting on your team.

That is what he did last Sunday, and that more than anything else is why his return to the NFL is highly unlikely.

Football, the safe haven so many thought could shelter him from his many on and off-the-field transgressions, is in shambles right now.

It’s to the point where the only thing that can save Antonio Brown and his fleeting football career in the NFL is Antoniio Brown.

And the likelihood of that happening? Not good.

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