If you’re looking for members of the media who are in Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown’s corner, you’ll want to avert your eyes away from former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge, who was on The Fan yesterday and pretty much excoriated the 10th-year veteran.
Brown, who of course played his first nine seasons in Pittsburgh before forcing his way out this Spring, has had no issue burning bridges or appearing to be irrational. Hoge doesn’t believe, however, that it’s an act, as many have suggested. “He knows what he’s doing”, you often here.
“Here’s how you have to view it: you can’t have a rational conversation with an irrational person”, Hoge said. “So no matter what you say or what you do, he’s not gonna perceive things in a rational manner. You’re not gonna win any conversation or any debate with him because he’s irrational”.
He said that with players like Brown, a lot of teams tend to have the mindset that they can bring the player in, give him a fresh start and a change of scenery, and fix any problems that might exist. “You don’t fix things like that”, said Hoge, speaking of an irrational mindset that never believes itself to be in the wrong.
He also recounted the first time that he met Brown as a young player and said that he couldn’t have been nicer. But he began to talk to people around the organization. “One thing started to stand out: man, you can’t count on that guy for nothing”, whether it’s being repeatedly late or any number of things.
“What people do to counter that is, ‘well, he works hard’. There ain’t a bigger line of garbage that he works hard”, Hoge began to lay into the former Steeler. “Everybody in the NFL works hard. Anybody who’s a good pro works hard. Because you work hard, it doesn’t take you away from being a bad pro. He’s a horrendous pro. He’s not professional. He’s an embarrassment to the National Football League. That is not how you want to model yourself in any profession, how he handles himself”.
It’s about the most thorough takedown of the wide receiver, who has incredibly seemed to be even more off the rails since being traded, that I have personally been exposed to through the media this offseason, though I certainly haven’t been actively looking for it.
A lot of what Hoge said seemed to hit the mark, too. We do have a tendency to buy the line about him being a hard worker, but it is true that there’s so much more to being a professional football player than simply putting in your individual reps on the practice field, and in that regard, Brown has been coming up woefully short for most of his career, simply because of what he’s able to do on the field.
Now, will this all fade into the background once he starts catching touchdown passes again—assuming that he does? That remains to be seen. But it might be a long time before the city of Pittsburgh ever forgives him for the way he exited.