Are you ready for Antonio Brown again, NFL fans? Didn’t think so. But here he is. Again. It’s safe to say that there aren’t a lot of people — outside of the greater Tampa Bay area — who are
Are you ready for Antonio Brown again, NFL fans?
Didn’t think so.
But here he is.
It’s safe to say that there aren’t a lot of people — outside of the greater Tampa Bay area — who are highly enthusiastic about a third (or is it fourth or fifth?) chance for the combustible receiver, who has proven himself to be equal parts untrustworthy and game-changing talent.
The Buccaneers, of course, are banking on Brown being the latter, which would mean a significant changing of stripes on his part.
Speaking to reporters this week, Brown sounded the part of the contrite bad boy, grateful for being given yet another chance and with vows of being a changed man after being banned from football multiple times.
“Being away from the game for a year-and-a-half, just to be able to be part of the process, to be out there with the guys … was surreal, something I don’t take for granted, something I have a great appreciation for, a better perspective about,” the 32-year-old told reporters on Wednesday in his first interview since the Buccaneers signed him.
Here’s the grain-of-salt thing, though: We’ve heard this before from Brown, who waxed on similarly when he was signed by the Patriots in 2019 before things turned sour and he was released after one game, and prior to that, when he was traded to the Raiders before turning on them.
The Bucs are Brown’s fourth team in 20 months. There’s a reason for that. He has been a problem.
Brown was just reinstated by the league after an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He’s currently on probation for felony burglary with battery charges stemming from an altercation with the delivery driver of a moving company. Twice in the past year, he has been accused of sexual misconduct and he faces a civil lawsuit from one of the accusers that is scheduled to go to trial in mid-December.
But Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler who has 841 receptions for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns in his career, can catch the rock and run with it like few in the game. And that’s all Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Tom Brady care about. Naysayers be damned, Brown will make his debut for the Bucs (6-2) in their key NFC South showdown Sunday night against the Saints (5-2).
This brings us to an interesting byproduct of this latest Brown marriage: Arians, one of the NFL’s most likeable coaches, is now coaching one of the league’s most difficult teams to like.
A lot of America has Brady fatigue, is tired of seeing him win all the time and is turned off by his propensity to spread his “look how great my life is’’ smugness over his social-media platforms. And the Brown signing is not likely to warm fans outside of the Tampa Bay area to the team.
The whole Brady-Brown relationship (Brown, as he did when the Patriots signed him, has reportedly been staying with Brady, this time at the palatial home in Tampa the quarterback is renting from Derek Jeter) is a curious one, with Brady bent on believing in Brown despite his sordid background.
“Tom is my boy,’’ Brown said. “He’s encouraging, always inspiring. He brings out the best in the people around him.’’
What happened in New England then? Brady didn’t seem to bring the best out of Brown there.
Adding to the level of bizarreness to this story, Brown has connected with self-help guru Tony Robbins, whom Brown called “a great asset for me.”
“I just feel like I’m a better person,” Brown said.
Call me skeptical.