Before you say, “Can we please stop talking about players who aren’t here!!!!!!!!” just hear me out. I mean, this is some next-level bizarre stuff.
That’s right, if you didn’t think Antonio Brown, the former Steelers receiver, was the problem before, now just tapped you on the shoulder and is asking if you’d like to rub some cream on his frostbitten feet.
Speaking of Brown’s feet, feet that were reportedly injured when he traveled to France for some cryotherapy treatment, news began to surface on Friday that they weren’t the real reason for his absence from Raiders training camp. No, what is supposedly keeping Brown from building that chemistry with Derek Carr is a lack of interest in playing football while wearing a helmet that’s not the one he’s had since his rookie season.
Brown is worried about the new-style helmets players must wear in 2019—helmets that tests have proven to be much safer than the one he has been wearing (and, as I alluded to, are now mandatory) —will hurt his vision and ability to catch passes.
Word is, if Brown doesn’t get his way, he’ll simply quit the National Football League.
Does it get much more diva than that? To be clear, Brown not being happy about having to adjust to a new piece of equipment does not make him a diva—other players have also complained. Refusing to report to camp, filing a grievance that an arbitrator must make a decision on, and threatening to quit football if the decision isn’t to your liking, those are the actions of a diva.
This is like Frank Sinatra getting into his limo and going home just moments before a concert because he just didn’t feel like playing that night. This is like that cliched joke about a singer refusing to perform if the bowl of M&M’s in their dressing room includes green ones.
Brown left Pittsburgh in the spring in a trade with the Raiders, who, I’m assuming, asked the Steelers to lie on the floor face-down and count to 100 as they ran away with their massive bounty. In other words, the Steelers were supposedly robbed in a deal that netted them just draft choices in the third and fifth rounds.
This is another assumption, but if the Raiders had to do it all over again, I’m guessing they’d be unwilling to part with much more than that singer’s bowl of M&M’s for a receiver who has done nothing so far but bring his tired circus act to their training camp.
And, to reiterate, Brown’s mostly been MIA at Raiders training camp.
It’s no real surprise that Brown has multiple reasons for his refusal to practice with the Raiders, because he spent the entire offseason giving multiple reasons for why he simply could no longer play for the mean and toxic Pittsburgh Steelers.
I think Brown’s latest saga(s) validates what many have been trying to tell us all along: Brown is just an unstable and unreasonable human being. At a certain point, don’t you have to comply with what your bosses tell you to do? I don’t want to sound like those people who think professional athletes should just do whatever they’re told. However, being asked to wear the proper equipment to play a violent sport isn’t unreasonable. And it’s not infringing on an employee’s rights.
Brown has always exhibited anti-authority behavior, and I think this latest act of defiance is a clear sign that he may now be unemployable.
While I may have said it a few times, I didn’t want to believe it was possible Brown was actually a diva receiver on par with the Terrell Owens of the football universe. But there is now no question he is.
Instead of moving on from his ugly Steelers departure and having a dignified second act in Oakland, Brown seems destined to play out the final years of his career bouncing from team to team until all 32 of them feel he’s no longer worth the headache.