Opinion: Antonio Brown will learn there is no enabling by Bill Belichick in New England
In today’s episode of The Adventures of Antonio Brown, our protagonist has a change of heart less than 24 hours after issuing a tearful apology to the members of his football family for the embarrassment he caused them.
Suddenly, he finds his situation undesirable, and his bosses disloyal. Angered by the punishments they dole out for his antics (acts of injustice in our friend’s mind), Brown plots an escape.
Utilizing his favorite weapon -- his social media platforms -- Brown makes a series of calculated moves, forces his way out of yet another tough scrape.
And then, with the odds for a happy ending stacked against him, he emerges victorious yet again.
Yes, he lands in an even better situation -- an opportunity with elite of elites, the most enviable franchise in the league.
Taking to social media yet again, Brown triumphantly shares a picture of himself in that New England Patriots white, blue and red, grinning ear to ear. His hashtag, #GodsPlan.
Now THAT, boys and girls, is how you do it.
We don’t know how things will play out for Brown and the New England Patriots.
But we do know that financially, he’s quite all right having signed a one-year deal worth $15 million, including a $9 million signing bonus to cap off a wild Saturday.
And having now joined the defending Super Bowl champions, who are coached by one of the greatest coaches of all time, and quarterbacked by one of the best to ever do it, Brown couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.
This of course is both a marvel and not surprising at all. Well before the Raiders announced on Friday that they would let AB slide and that they planned to let him play on Monday, NFL fans had already come up with hilarious memes of Bill Belichick gearing up for an acquisition of Brown.
None of us could blow off assignments from our supervisor, cuss another boss out and then tell them we’re not coming to work again and instantly upgrade our employment situation.
But that’s because we’re not Antonio Brown. We don’t live in even the same galaxy.
And we don’t have world-class talent that makes it easy for people to excuse our behavior that some deem transgressions. The majority of Brown’s NFL peers don’t even possess this second- and third-chance-earning kind of clout. Just ask Colin Kaepernick.
But, if there were any franchise that would take a chance on such a volatile player, it’s the Patriots. That’s what they do.
Belichick embraces the cast-offs. He capitalizes on their hurts and feelings of rejection. He helps them turn those pains into chips on their shoulders and gets them to conform to his standards. He promises redemption and revenge in the form of a very real shot at a Lombardi Trophy, or two, or six.
Embracing the Patriots Way, those second-chance players often do succeed in rewriting their narratives, and they shine on the new stage New England provides.
It’ll be interesting to see the language in Brown’s new contract, but he likely understands that this opportunity does come with a short leash.
He’ll likely fly straight because of the chance to face his former team, the Steelers, who traditionally frequently face the Patriots in the postseason with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. (Coincidentally, the Patriots open against the Steelers on Sunday night, but because he just joined the team Saturday, he is not eligible to play.) Meanwhile, he’ll relish this new setting because he’ll no longer have to deal with the headaches of rebuilding as he would have in Oakland.
The Patriots pride themselves on accountability and strong locker room leaders.
Interestingly enough though, accountability isn’t exactly something Brown seems to understand.
People looked the other way or swept his transgressions under the rug for a decade in Pittsburgh. And the Raiders were prepared to make exceptions for him as well, to a certain extent.
He’ll have to learn quickly, however. Because there will be no enabling in New England. If Brown does anything to embarrass this franchise, Belichick will bring swift punishment, and likely end the experiment.
If he’s smart, Brown keeps all of this in mind and once again commits to carrying himself like one of the best wide receivers in the game. And if he does, he’ll wind up with the last laugh, despite having ruined many relationships with people who cared about him and having soiled his reputation in the eyes of many NFL players, coaches and fans.
But that’s OK, in Brown’s book. His happiness and fulfillment are top priority. If he comes out on top, how he gets there doesn’t matter as much.
He’ll draw criticism for that. And many NFL fans will gnash their teeth, jealous that the rules they must adhere to daily don’t apply to Brown.
But that doesn’t bother Brown.
This is just how it is. As he said in Friday night’s YouTube video, this is his life.
This is his world.
The Patriots are the latest characters introduced in this chapter of the saga.
The rest of us? We’re just members of the AB show’s live audience.