After going on and on about respect as a motivating factor for wanting to leave the Steelers, Antonio Brown must have felt pretty darn disrespected on Tuesday when his new team, the Raiders, signed the recently released Vontaze Burfict to a one-year deal.
If you’re Brown, aren’t you calling your new bosses at that very moment and screaming “WHAT????????”
After all, this was the guy who took his shoulder and bashed a defenseless Brown in the head in the waning moments of a wildcard playoff game between the Steelers and Bengals in January of 2016. That blow, one that drew a penalty (two, ultimately) and led to an improbable Pittsburgh victory, severely hindered the chances for a win the following week, thanks to Brown missing the divisional round playoff game due to a concussion.
Brown rightfully spent the next few years railing against Burfict and his never-ending string of egregious acts on the football field. He, like a lot of players, knew there was no place in modern pro football for a player like Burfict, someone who seemingly couldn’t help himself when it came to trying to maim opposing football players (even his own teammates in practice).
As someone who is now the cornerstone, the centerpiece, of his new football team, shouldn’t Brown have felt totally put out by the Raiders acting like the Raiders? Shouldn’t the receiver have been wondering about his true value to his new bosses?
Instead, you get welcoming Tweets from Brown such as “Just talked @King55Tez black and silver baby #RaiderNation #BullySeason.”
For his part, Burfict is also really open to the idea of being best buds with his new superstar teammate. But, then again, what does he care? He’s not the one who suffered a concussion at the hands of Vontaze Burfict, it was Antonio Brown.
I ask again, why isn’t Brown outraged by this lack of respect from his new team? Why isn’t he making the interview rounds and talking about a blow that could have ended his career?
It was amazing, the things that seemed to upset Brown during his final days in Pittsburgh—getting called out on Ben Roethlisberger’s weekly radio show for not running a flat enough route; being disciplined by his head coach for not showing up to practice before the final game of the regular season; and what he felt was an unfair contract he just signed two years earlier.
Yet, he readily accepts as a teammate a man who showed him the ultimate disrespect by injuring him with a dirty hit, a hit that could have affected his career and legacy—two things that are clearly very important to him? He now wants to be friends with a player who almost literally cost him millions of dollars in compensation he wouldn’t have earned had he been forced to retire?
In an ironic twist, maybe Brown’s public show of support for Burfict as his newest teammate is the very definition of being a team player. He can’t help who his bosses bring into the locker room, and all he can do is hope that it’s what’s best for winning.
Either that, or Antonio Brown was just full of it regarding the “disrespect” he was subjected to with the Steelers.
Or perhaps he’s taken one too many blows to the head from Vontaze Burfict.