Antonio Brown has turned himself into perhaps the most bizarre athlete case study over the past year or so. He was at the top of his game—at the top of the game, period—upon the conclusion of the 2018 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, leading the league with 15 receiving touchdowns, but it actually began to go south before the year was even up.
We know all the details by now. He went AWOL in Week 17 and Mike Tomlin benched him. He proceeded to go radio silent throughout the offseason, only surfacing on social media to make outlandish statements and essentially demand to be traded.
He ultimately was traded, to the Oakland Raiders, for what was considered by many at that time to be quite modest compensation, but Oakland would end up releasing him before the season even started. He ultimately played one game with the New England Patriots before they were too forced to release him after he threatened a second woman accusing him of rape.
Since then, he has intermittently expressed remorse and outrage, the latter generally coming through his own poorly-constructed and poorly-phrased rants, the latter typically in a manner clearly written by somebody else, perhaps his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
The general gist has been sending the message that he wants to play football and believes he deserves to be on a team. Yet he’s done and said so many things—taking shots at the league itself, at specific players and coaches and teams—that it’s no surprise he has alienated himself.
Recently, he began recording music, and I’m not even going to talk about that at all. I don’t care. I’m not going to listen to it. I didn’t listen to Le’Veon Bell’s music, either. But in a recent interview, he talked about wanting to provide leadership to people who look up to him, and he’s apparently doing this with songs called things like “Whole Lotta Money”.
A few weeks ago, he joked that his lead single would be called “No White Woman”. In the interview, he brought this up himself, saying it would not be that. “I kind of just made a tweet and it was funny as just a kind of a marketing tweet to sell the album”, he said. “But it’s definitely not going to be called that. It’s got to be something with meaning. Something with good leadership behind it”.
Yet he has also ranted about ‘white women’, and women in general, somewhat frequently on social media, and has had plenty of unsavory things to say. To him, this is just his right, which he has earned through his excellence, to speak his mind. Or, alternatively, he’s just joking.
“Sometimes people think they’re too serious, you know, I’m being silly”, he said of his social media behavior. “I’m just entertaining. That’s why people take it too serious”.
In other words, it’s more public relations. The only problem is he burns bridges faster than he can build them. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he never plays a down of football again. And if he did half of what he has been accused of doing, he should be in jail, anyway.