By now you’ve all seen the video of Antonio Brown taking off his jersey and pads on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sideline on Sunday and running back into the locker room.
Brown left the stadium mid-game and reportedly took an Uber headed somewhere. The Bucs released Brown immediately after the game, and wild internet speculation took place. But as with most stories there is more to it than that video, and now mental health and the violence of football are major topics once again.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Bucs coaches felt Brown was healthy enough to enter the game. Brown felt otherwise and as a result he was told by the coaching staff to leave the sidelines.
From @GMFB: The relationship between the #Bucs and Antonio Brown was quietly going the wrong way for some time. Then he refused to enter the game and was tossed from the sidelines. A look at how it all went so wrong… pic.twitter.com/3TcfmXYho7
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 3, 2022
While the incident was going on, everyone on Twitter wanted to assert their opinions and theories on what was happening. There was a collective rush to categorize and classify the situation. Everything from diva wide receiver, to wacky goofball, to suffering from mental health issues and everything in between was thrown out there.
Because that’s what we do as humans. We have to categorize and classify things. We don’t like ambiguity, or uncertainty. It’s uncomfortable and disconcerting. But that is exactly what this situation is.
The truth is, we have no idea what is going on with Brown or truly what happened in that exchange between him and the coaching staff. Rapoport reported that it was an argument over whether Brown was physically capable of playing.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said today, Jan. 3, he wasn’t aware of any injury to Brown.
“I don’t know that he was [injured],” Arians said.
Did he say that he was injured? “No,” Arians said.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it,” Arians said. “We had a conversation, and he left the field.”
Arians declined to say what the conversation was about, only adding he wishes Brown well.
“It was very hard,” Arians said. “I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It’s very hard. Because I do care about him.”
Arian’s comment that he hopes Brown gets help if needed were echoed by quarterback Tom Brady. Couple this incident with other behaviors by Brown that you could categorize as outside the norm, and that’s what has everyone discussing his mental health.
ESPN analyst Mina Kimes offered an opinion and was measured in her response.
Here is my opinion: None of you know what he's going through. We only know what he's done–things much more serious than leaving a game–and that NFL teams didn't give a shit because he's so talented. What other take is there? https://t.co/l9XuWdQU2a
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) January 2, 2022
Kimes’ tweet prompted a response from a fan with an alleged quote from Brown’s former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Carlos Dunlap, who attributed a brutal collision with Vontaze Burfict on the change in Brown.
Exactly.. his teammate Carlos Dunlap said.
The hit he suffered from V. Berfict pic.twitter.com/lw8mwWnhHE
— frankie RenoRod (@FrankieReno67) January 2, 2022
Kimes is right. Nobody knows what Brown is going through, and that includes former or current teammates.
What we do know is that football is a violent game that causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). A progressive brain condition caused by repeated blows to the head and repeated concussions. No matter how much the NFL tries to legislate violence out of football it’s impossible without changing it into a completely different game.
Football fans don’t want that and the NFL knows it.
If Brown has poor mental health, playing football can’t be a good thing. How many examples do we need of players harming themselves or others, only for it to be later discovered that they suffered from CTE?
Something seems off with Brown to the untrained and uneducated eyes of some sports fans. But that’s as far as you can go. Anything else is reckless speculation.
But as fellow human beings what we can do is be decent and empathetic. If there is something wrong with Brown, you hope he can get the help he needs.
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