Antonio Brown, who quickly went from the man everyone loved to the man everyone loved to hate, finally learned his fate on Friday as it pertained to the NFL’s ongoing investigation into some of Brown’s unsavory and very high-profile off-the-field behavior.
Brown will serve eight games, starting with Week 1 of the 2020 regular season. This means whether or not a team signs him prior to Week 8, he’ll be eligible to play after that time. Now the question for the former Steelers receiver who played in Pittsburgh from 2010-2018 is will a team sign him? Brown has been linked to the likes of the Seahawks and Ravens in recent weeks, with both Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson publicly throwing their support behind him.
Months earlier, after the Buccaneers won the “Tom Brady Sweepstakes,” Brady, who played a grand-total of one game with Brown during the 2019 season when he signed with the Patriots following his release from the Raiders, reportedly lobbied for the controversial receiver to join him in Tampa, a possibility that was quickly squashed by head coach Bruce Arians.
That last paragraph was quite the mouthful, but it perfectly illustrates just how messy Brown’s life has been since the tail-end of the 2018 season, when he went AWOL on the Steelers—twice, actually.
Brown’s problems are his own, obviously, and he has nobody to blame but himself. But there’s a small part of me that wants to see him succeed again. Like any messy divorce, I was through with Brown following a 2019 offseason in which he did all that he could to make Steelers fans delete his phone number and block him on social media.
But time does really heal all wounds, and, as weird as this is for me to admit, I wouldn’t mind seeing Brown get his life together and actually have a final NFL chapter, if for no other reason than to give him some structure.
Say what you want about Brown—and there is a lot to say about him that is negative—but he’s a tremendous competitor and the hardest worker most people who have been in his presence have ever seen. As we’ve witnessed when Brown doesn’t have football or a reason to work, he seems lost, he seems directionless.
Now that he knows where he stands with regards to his immediate future, it’s up to an NFL team to give him another chance. Will one? It’s worth noting the NFL is still waiting to see what ultimately happens with a civil suit involving Brown and an alleged sexual assault. It’s unclear whether or not the league will dish out more punishment based on the final result of the suit—innocent, guilty or settlement—but it’s obviously not a minor issue.
Will Brown get a lengthier suspension, or will the league take a wait and see approach and monitor his actions during the two months that he’ll have to stay away from the NFL and any team that might sign him between now and Week 1?
For a player like Brown, who seems to need a routine and something to work for, this suspension lets him know that there may be a chance for redemption if he gets to the other side of it in one piece.
It’s probably not going out on a limb to say any team that signs Brown from now until the end of his NFL career will quickly put him on the proverbial short leash. But, again, that’s Brown’s fault.
Will he finally get it this time? Will he finally realize that being a team-player is the only way he’s going to get a chance to make things right?
That’s anyone’s guess, but it’s looking more and more like Antonio Brown may get yet another second chance.