Antonio Brown has transformed from the best wide receiver in the NFL into a legendary diva. These are some of the things he has done in the past year: chucked furniture off a 14-floor balcony, sped at 90 mph in a 45 mph zone, call out former mentee and teammate Juju Smith-Schuster for no good reason, threatened to retire over a helmet, and called his general manager a derogatory term.
Antonio Brown was once a superstar for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and now is a player released by the Raiders before he even played a down for them. But in a shocking turn of events, signed with the defending Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots with a one-year deal.
The general reaction is that the Patriots’ roster is now unfair, and the Patriots did the wrong thing by picking up a troublemaker and rewarding him with success. These are valid as Brown has been the best receiver in the NFL the last six years as he has averaged over 1500 yards and 114 receptions during that time. Also, the Patriots are among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl; giving Brown a good chance to get the ring he has missed out on his entire career.
However, here is the way I look at it. When you have a child that misbehaves so badly that even grounding him does that correct his behaviors, what is an option some parents in that situation consider? Sending them away to a school that not only helps them to learn and correct their behaviors but also gives them a friendly but strict new environment that helps them change.
The New England Patriots are the NFL’s boarding school. They are an extremely successful team that maintains a strict environment and a team-like atmosphere. The Patriots are all about team and they do not tolerate nonsense. Bill Belichick is prone to promptly cutting and benching players who do not follow team rules. In 2014, running back Jonas Gray had four touchdowns and 199 yards in a Patriots win over the Indianapolis Colts. The following week, he missed practice and hardly ever saw the field after that. This is the same coach that benched star corner Malcolm Butler before Super Bowl 52, the same corner that saved Super Bowl 49 for the Patriots. The Patriots do not tolerate nonsense and while Josh Gordon is still on the team, that is more a problem that they are trying to work with Gordon to fix.
Antonio Brown has one chance to turn his reputation around before he becomes a lost cause, just like the boarding school is the last chance for the bratty child to turn his life around before he is a lost cause. If the New England Patriots cannot fix his behavior like the Steelers and Raiders, then no one can.
Photo via Barry Reeger/Special to PennLive