Remember all those gushy stories from Oakland in the weeks after the Antonio Brown trade?
You know the ones.
About coach Jon Gruden trying to get cell phone reception in the Red Rock Mountains to talk to Brown. He and general manager Mike Mayock sneaking away from a swanky reception with their wives to consummate the deal with the Steelers.
Brown and former Cincinnati Bengals arch-rival Vontaze Burfict playing “Family Feud” together in a team-bonding session.
All that doe-eyed optimism. All those good vibes.
How long ago was that? Three? Four years ago?
No. It was March.
I bet it just feels that way in Oakland now, though. The eight-year slow burn we went through in Pittsburgh morphed into a five-month explosion in northern California.
First, it was the frost-bitten feet. Then it was his helmet boycott. Then Brown came back before the team’s preseason game in Arizona Thursday. Then he was absent again Sunday.
So Mayock called him out to return.
It appears @MikeMayock
has no problem playing the heavy while Gruden throws rose petals at macerated feet, but we will know if @Raiders have truly lost patience
with @ab84 if any of their inner thoughts/deliberations show up on “Hard Knocks” Tuesday.pic.twitter.com/elxN9m2g89
Rich Eisen (@richeisen) August 18, 2019
Brown did. But then he filed another grievance over his helmet debate Monday.
Raiders’ WR Antonio Brown filed a new grievance against the NFL in an attempt to be able to wear the helmet he wants, per source.
Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 20, 2019
And the drama continues.
You can take Brown from the soap opera. But the soap opera follows him wherever he goes.
Because, let’s admit it, he wants the attention. He loves the coverage. He loves the headlines even though he complains about the Google alerts with his name in them.
As the great Tom Skerritt learned in “Top Gun,” if you let Maverick fly the plane, you get caught in the jet wash.
And now the “hardest working receiver in football” is finding another reason not to work.
Just like he did during training camp last year. Just like he did while skipping meetings after the Week 2 loss to Kansas City last September. Just like he did before the regular season finale in December.
I’m tired of people trying to sluff off Brown’s behavior on CTE or mental illness. If that’s the case, so be it. Get him away from football and into treatment. At that point, I’ll feel sorry for him.
Until then, I’ve got no choice but to assume he’s the reactive, narcissistic personality he continually proves to be. Right now, Brown is telling his new organization he cares more about beating the NFL over this helmet situation than he cares about beating Denver in the season opener.
Brown is turning this helmet issue into his personal Deflategate.
Here’s the problem. Tom Brady had four Super Bowls of cache built up with his Patriots fan base before he was willing to die on that hill. All Brown has done is sell a few Silver and Black jerseys.
You gotta love Mayock though, don’t ya? Talking tough with that “all in, or all out” routine.
He saw how Brown ran amok in Pittsburgh. Now he is trying to curtail that behavior by laying down the hammer.
Antonio Brown is going to do whatever Antonio Brown wants because the collective bargaining agreement allows him that latitude.
Based on the NFL’s signing bonuses, guaranteed money system, and grievance procedures, he can do what he is doing. He has the legal recourse to drag it out.
Or at least his agent Drew Rosenhaus seems to think so. Therefore, he’s going to try to do it.
After all, in the meantime, what’s Mayock going to do? Cut him? Trade him? Dock his pay?
I don’t think so. If Mayock believes he’s got a headache on his hands now, good luck dealing with Brown if Mayock gets that aggressive.
Brown will be in uniform for the opener against Denver because he won’t want to miss agame check.
But between now and then, don’t expect him to show up just because Mayock wanted to bow-up for the “Hard Knocks” cameras.
As for what to expect next? Hell if I know.
But enjoy the ride, Pittsburgh. Because you don’t have to sit in the front seat anymore.