Editorial: Stop laughing at Antonio Brown
It is time to stop being amused by Antonio Brown.
Oh, sure, it was fun for a while. And it kind of felt like Steelers fans had earned the entertainment, the opportunity to kick back and watch the football player make another team befuddled for a change.
There were frozen feet. There was his refusal to play with the NFL-approved helmet, which led to the mystifying attempt to pass off his black-and-gold helmet by repainting it in Raiders’ black-and-silver.
There were adolescent social media antics. There was a temper tantrum after contractual discipline. There was a demand to be released from that contract and go find (yet another) new home that would merrily pony up millions of dollars for the chance to be AB’s newest substitute teacher.
The news that he had gone to the New England Patriots? Ha! Enjoy him, Boston.
But on Tuesday, it was different. It wasn’t more acting out for attention. It was a more serious allegation.
The New York Times reported that trainer Britney Taylor filed a federal lawsuit accusing Brown of sexual assaults in 2017 and 2018. The wide receiver’s attorney said any interaction between the two was consensual and dismissed the suit as a “money grab.”
The lawsuit is new and Brown has not had a real opportunity to rebut it with his own filings yet, so let’s not litigate it.
What we can do is use it as one broken tile in the mosaic that makes up Brown’s professional years. It’s not a pretty picture.
Like so many NFL players who make those off-the-field headlines, Brown is an awesome physical talent whose play can become eclipsed by his behavior. He has a football player’s short shelf-life and a body that has been honed and beaten on the gridiron since he was just a kid. The coup de grace could have been his bone-jarring 2016 concussion during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
As more research is done on the players who have gone before, like the Patriots’ late Aaron Hernandez, more evidence is found of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease caused by repetitive injuries. Hernandez was another lifelong athlete whose behavior had been an issue through his college and NFL careers. That’s not an excuse, and it’s not a proactive defense for Brown. We can’t dismiss athletes’ bad behavior as part of a disease they can’t control. There has to be personal responsibility.
But as fans, we have to make it our responsibility to not be entertained by the sideshow. Pull back the curtain on the antics and tantrums, and CTE is just one of the many problems that could fuel them.
And none of it is funny.