Antonio Brown hasn’t been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ problem in well over a year, but he may have taken one step closer to giving another team headaches yesterday as he pleaded no contest in response to charges stemming from an incident in January in which he was accused of battery against the driver of a moving vehicle at his home.
Brown was arrested following that incident, ultimately released on bail a day or two later. In pleading no contest, he will receive two years of probation, but avoid serving prison time. He is also subject to 100 hours of community service, will be required to undergo a 13-week anger management course, and also undergo a psychiatric evaluation if the latter is deemed necessary.
A former perennial All-Pro for the Steelers, a Hall of Fame talent with record-setting abilities, Brown had just about everything he could want except for a championship, before he started to burn bridges. His relationship with the Steelers deteriorated rapidly at the end of last season, and he ultimately forced his way off the team, getting traded to the Oakland Raiders.
Oakland would release him before even reaching the regular season, such a menace he was. He spent a brief amount of time with the New England Patriots during the regular season, playing in one game and catching his first and only touchdown pass from a quarterback other than Ben Roethlisberger.
Even the Patriots had enough after two women accused him of sexual assault. After he was exposed harassing his second accuser, New England was forced to move him. Since then, only the New Orleans Saints have given him a workout.
While there are reportedly teams interested in signing him—Russell Wilson is supposedly a big fan, and multiple Baltimore Ravens players are on record as advocating for him—there are still hurdles on his way back to the NFL, a month before he turns 32.
The league has been dragging its feet on its own investigation into the civil suit filed against him for rape, and for the subsequent intimidation of his second accuser. Whoever looks to sign him risks the league immediately placing him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.
Former teammates and friends have expressed concern for Brown’s mental wellbeing for over a year now and have publicly called upon him to seek help following seemingly escalating public antics, which have included multiple interventions from law enforcement called to his residence.
It’s unfortunate that one of the great talents of this era of the game has been overshadowed, by his own doing, because of his inability to simply be a reasonable human being. It would be nice if he could earn a redemption story, but frankly, if he really raped somebody, he should be in prison.