I start with a sigh of relief that the circus did NOT come to town this weekend. Because it would have been a gong show with the clown named Antonio Brown.
Now don’t get me wrong: Is Brown one of the most talented and dangerous receivers in the league? Yes. Could the Seahawks use help at the receiver position this season? Sure. And if you threw out all the distractions and baggage and attitude and ego and entitlement and just got the football player? It would’ve been a no-brainer. But then again, if that was the case, he’d still be a Raider.
What we saw from Brown the past few months, culminating with a shocking 48-hour stretch this weekend was more drama than Terrell Owens, Percy Harvin and Chad Johnson combined throughout their careers.
To recap: Brown missed several days of training camp because of an issue with frostbyte after not wearing the correct footwear in a cryotherapy session. Then there was the months-long helmet-gate saga, where he refused to play with a league-mandated safer helmet – the only player among more than a thousand to publicly throw a fit to try and get his way – which he still didn’t after multiple attempts.
Then there was the public posting and complaining about internal fines for missing practice, almost coming to blows with Raiders GM Mike Mayock while calling him a derogatory name, and then illegally sharing parts of private phone conversations with head coach Jon Gruden on social media. Forget insubordination, California is a two-party consent state for private communications – that’s a legal issue too!
Listen, I know there are some who think it would’ve been worth it to take a shot on Brown, especially in Seattle, where leadership is strong and Pete Carroll has a history of giving troubled players second chances, attempting to embrace the uniqueness of sometimes fiery personalities. And I understand that the Hawks could’ve done the same thing the Patriots did, signing Brown to a one-year deal, and having the right to cut bait at the first sign of defiance or disobedience.
But it’s really more complicated than that. It has a ripple effect on the entire locker room. We saw the effects of a frustrated Percy Harvin, Richard Sherman and even Earl Thomas. Michael Bennett’s defiant words about boredom and reading books in team meeting rooms.
We just purged that. We turned that corner. So much so that this is what Pete Carroll had to say earlier this week.
"I have applied myself this offseason as much as I can ever remember," Carroll said. "I can just so clearly see that we have a chance to have a great run at it. I felt like that ever since last season and it's just drawn me into it. I've been flying. In all aspects of what we're doing, it's just been a blast."
Did we really want to risk shaking that up? Even given the Carroll mantra of always “going for it” or “letting it rip,” I’d argue that chemistry in this locker room this season with this leadership is more important toward finding success than any other year in the last decade.
I get it: Brown might fall in line in New England and follow “The Patriot Way.” But that doesn’t mean Seattle would’ve been immune to his antics. The Hawks certainly don’t throw the ball nearly enough to make a guy like that happy. It was an ingredient that was likely more volatile than complementary.
In the end, if there’s really something mentally unstable with Brown, I hope he gets help. If as some say, this was intentional self-sabotage to find a better team, I still wouldn’t want him.
The juice, in my opinion, simply wasn’t worth the squeeze.