Mark Madden: No way Antonio Brown conforms to ‘Patriot Way’
The moon landings weren’t faked.
The earth isn’t flat.
9/11 was not an inside job.
Antonio Brown did not intend to finagle his way to New England dating to when he was with the Steelers.
Oh, it’s a believable story in the era of rigged “reality” TV.
But Brown’s primary concern always has been cash. His recent history has seen him lust for guaranteed money and go apoplectic when that pursuit was compromised.
Moving from Oakland to Foxborough cost Brown $21 million in guarantees.
Unless Le’Veon Bell is your math teacher, that’s an ‘L.’
Brown might have a great season. The Patriots have a $20 million option on Brown for 2020. If he behaves and produces, Brown wins. (That option might be mostly salary cap maneuvering.)
Anyway, that’s a big “if.” “Might” offers no guarantees.
If New England doesn’t pick up Brown’s option, the best he can hope for is a series of one-year contracts as his career fades. He’s 31. He’s closer to the end than he is the middle. Teams won’t forget the anarchy he caused this past offseason.
Ancillary revenue streams have suffered in the wake of Brown running roughshod over decency, football’s team concept and the English language. Pizza Hut and Pepsi don’t want their product represented by somebody who illegally tapes, then plays private phone conversations. Brown damaged his brand and flushed his dignity.
JuJu Smith-Schuster appears to have emerged as Pizza Hut’s primary spokesman. That has to anger Brown.
The Patriots don’t care about illegal taping. That’s part of their rich history.
Tom Brady reportedly said Brown can live at his house. I wouldn’t trust Brown to park my car, and Brady’s asking him to move into his $40 million home.
In theory, Brown makes New England a better team. (But it didn’t look like the Patriots needed him Sunday night.) New England is the defending Super Bowl champion to begin with.
But Brown was supposed to elevate Oakland and never played a game there.
The Steelers should have won a Super Bowl (or more) with Brown. But his presence damaged that quest.
Bill Belichick has a reputation for recycling agitators.
He now faces his sternest test.
Napoleon had his Waterloo. (So did ABBA.) Brown could be Belichick’s.
Belichick has dealt with troubled players before: LeGarrette Blount, Corey Dillon, Albert Haynesworth, Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco. He has had varying degrees of success.
But Brown isn’t your average problem child. He’s a nuclear explosion. Those aforementioned are walks in the park by comparison.
Brown is a troublemaker of rare skill and innovation, as demonstrated by the use of wiretapping. His social media game is a California brush fire. He has zero shame and sincerely believes his cause is noble even though it’s sheer narcissism and greed.
Brown has said he intends to play by his rules. By that, he means no rules. He wants to do what he wants, when he wants and adhere to no schedule.
That is not the Belichick way. Something’s got to give.
Belichick might secretly compromise on occasion, but nothing about Brown is ever secret.
If Brown toes Belichick’s line, he looks like a stooge and hypocrite.
Belichick vs. Brown is the most interesting matchup of the NFL season.
It will end in a championship (or close), or in chaos.
You can’t logically bet anything but the latter.
Belichick isn’t the only factor. What happens when Brady yells at Brown after Brown improvises a route? What happens when Julian Edelman gets more targets than Brown? If Brown thought Ben Roethlisberger had an owner’s mentality, how’s he going to feel about Brady?
The upset will be if this situation doesn’t blow up. The bomb has been delivered to the Enola Gay.