Just because this offseason is already ridiculous, it’s only natural that, after Antonio Brown forced his way off of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that he was ultimately trade to—the Oakland Raiders—would very quickly scoop up former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict just a day after he was released.
The two have had a few run-ins over the years, of course, none bigger than in the 2015 Wildcard Game in which Burfict completely unnecessarily struck Brown in the helmet with his upper body at the end of an incomplete pass on an errant ball. There was no chance of the reception being completed, the ball had already passed by, but Burfict chose to run through Brown rather than around him anyway.
This left the wide receiver with a concussion that would keep him out the following week in an eventual loss to the Denver Broncos, but multiple Bengals players, including Burfict, were accusing Brown of faking the issue, and would only relent in their accusations after he was ruled out for the game. Because, of course, unless you miss a game, you can’t have been injured.
Burfict also hit Brown in the helmet again last season in one of the meetings between the two teams, and there were probably other instances in between that I’m forgetting. But at least for the moment, and in public, they are acting as though they are thick as thieves.
“It’s one goal. It’s all positive, man. He’s a great player”, Burfict said of Brown last night after signing. I’m going to approach him just like I do all my other teammates. There’s nothing negative here. We’re on the same team. We’re trying to win a championship here”.
Brown posted on social media about his conversation with the linebacker—or rather posted noting that the conversation happened. He tagged the Tweet with the hashtag #BullySeason, because, well…I don’t know and at this point I don’t care.
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) March 20, 2019
But it’s no surprise that there has been an immediate clamoring for the Raiders to be featured on Hard Knocks this year, the league’s HBO reality television show that follows one NFL team through the offseason during training camp.
John Gruden and Mike Mayock are adding some volatile personalities to their locker room and banking on it all panning out. They can ask the Steelers whether or not that always happens. In the past week, they’ve just added two players who literally have a negative history with one another.
And both of them have shown that they have an exceedingly difficult time putting things behind them. So yeah. This could get fun. Or it could be absolutely nothing. We’ll just have to wait and see. Right now they’re not going to have a lot of contact with one another at this stage of the offseason.