Let the games begin. Antonio Brown took part in practice today with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and afterwards he met with the Bucs media to talk about what went into his decision to come to Tampa Bay and what to expect.
Brown has had his share of headlines over the last year and not many of them were in a positive light. He forced his way out of Pittsburgh, forced his way out of Oakland, joined the Patriots, was arrested, had sexual assault allegations brought against him, and is set to stand trial in December. His road to Tampa is not a smooth one by any stretch and many are not very excited or comfortable with the move - mostly for off field reasons.
All that said, Brown was available for questions today and talked about his attempt at rectifying some of these issues by working on himself in the quest to be a better person;
“I took a lot of time off of the game to re-evaluate myself. To look within, to get a better perspective of myself, working on myself within and without. To be in this position, we followed the mission and to get back on track is what I’m here to do.
I’ve just been spending a lot of time with family, working on myself with them. Just staying resilient, you know? Keeping my mind on the mission of being a football player and doing all the things that come with that. Even when times got hard, keeping myself in shape, keeping myself motivated from within, not listening to the nay-sayers, not giving doubt or worries about whether or not I’ll be able to return. I had good trainers, good people around me in my corner that kept me encouraged, kept me motivated. I just believed that one day I would get the chance to be back in this position and I just tried to check every box so that when I got the chance to be back I was ready to go.”
That’s a long winded way to say that he’s had plenty of time for reflection and to realize that he’s on his last leg. If he doesn’t wake up and get his head straight that he’s going to be out of the league for good.
One of the things that happened in the tornado of bad PR that Brown was a part of was his public beef with his new coach Bruce Arians. Arians spoke publicly about how AB wasn’t a good fit for the team or locker room and had a little too much “diva” in him. AB fired back about how Arians wasn’t around when he joined the Steelers and that Arians didn’t really know him.
Obviously there is history between the two and Brown did in fact play for Arians, but the two had to reach some sort of common ground in order for this signing to happen. Brown spoke about his new coach and the direction the two are heading in;
“I don’t know what was said or what coach said. I know we have a great relationship. As a kid coming to Pittsburgh ten years ago - being 20 years old - Bruce Arians was always an asset in my corner. He’s a great coach that always brought out the best in me, he’s always challenging in what he says but it’s only to make you a better person. I had to learn that from the start as a 20 year old kid. No matter what B.A. says, he always has good intentions for his players. I wouldn’t be here without him so I’m grateful to him for the opportunity to have me here. I owe a lot of credit to B.A.
Things that were said online, I don’t know. I don’t pay a lot of attention to it. I know I have a great opportunity here with B.A. and this organization and this team. So, I’m super grateful for the opportunity he’s presented me.”
Whether Brown truly doesn’t remember the Twitter exchanges between the two or is now looking at it as water under the bridge, I have to say that - on the surface - it looks like Brown is focused on just playing football and contributing to the team.
I keep reminding myself and others that Brown knows this is his last chance and that he has to be on his best behavior - both on and off the field - if he is going to have any chance at all at playing beyond just the last eight games of this season. He’s playing for his next contract, he’s playing to repair his reputation, and he’s playing to salvage his career. All those things, we hope, equal a focused and productive version of AB that helps put this team over the top in a race for a Super Bowl.