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Is Antonio Brown’s Tenure With The Raiders Player Empowerment Run Amuck ?  

Divas like Brown mess it up for Black players who actually use their leverage to improve the game for others.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Antonio Brown hasn’t played a down with the Raiders and already most people are considering the Pittsburgh Steelers to be the big winners of the trade that sent the unpredictable, diva receiver to Oakland. 

From his frostbitten toes to his recent refusal to switch helmets to meet the NFL’s safety requirements for lids, Brown’s overall antics have become increasingly erratic, and eventful as his demands already outweigh his on the field contributions.

This recent demand is just downright illogical, but then again, when is the last time Brown actually said something that makes sense to someone not making $20 million dollars a season and living in a fantasy world of celebrity and self-indulgence? 

According to deadspin.com, “on Friday, we learned that the reason the Raiders wideout hasn’t been practicing has less to do with his frostbitten feet and more to do with the fact that the NFL won’t allow him to practice or play with his personal helmet, which is so old it can’t be certified to meet the league’s safety standards.

Brown filed a grievance against the NFL and had his hearing on Friday in Philadelphia. Previously, it had been reported that Brown was threatening to retire if he wasn’t allowed to wear the helmet he’s been wearing his entire career (pro and college). According to The Athletic, at his grievance hearing Brown tried a new tack: threatening that if he’s forced to wear a new helmet and gets injured, he’d hold the NFL responsible.”

I’m all for player empowerment. For far too long, African-American players have accepted the short end of the stick and sacrificed their bodies and minds for a pro check. For many of these guys, the riches never came, but the CTE and brain damage did.

However, there is a framework of teamwork, honor, and integrity that even the most diva receiver must respect. Football requires a bunch of guys to be somewhat on the same page every Sunday for the team to be successful. 

Brown hasn’t exhibited a desire to be a team player for some time now. He threw tantrums and blasted every player or person who he played with in Pittsburgh. He orchestrated a media circus to embarrass the Steelers and HC Mike Tomlin until they traded him. He came to the Raiders with pomp and circumstance and so far all he’s offered them are bizarre headlines and unreasonable behavior. 

He’ll never change because there’s always somebody who will defend his actions.

Threatening to retire over a helmet? Not even Tom Brady would win that one. Brown is reaching for a level of favoritism that is out of his price range and position. We damn sure know that it’s beyond his racial composition, but unfortunately, he won’t find that out until after his skills have diminished and he’s looking to hang on for a couple of more years. The NFL is going to treat him like NBA teams are treating Carmelo Anthony, but worse. 

Back in June, ex-Steelers great Jerom Bettis was one of several NFL greats who spoke about how concerned they are for Brown’s legacy a decade from now. 

“I would hate for this to be the end of his career [in Pittsburgh],” Bettis said. “But also I think for his legacy, when I think you look at him 10 years down the road, I don’t want this moment defining the player he is, because he’s much more than this issue; incredible football player and he’s a really good person if you get a chance to know him.”

The problem is, fans and media don’t get close enough to Brown to truly get to know him. And the guys on the Steelers who he knew very well feel like they are better off without him. What he shows us on social media and with his public persona isn’t very likable.

He’s not a bad guy by any means, but he’s definitely shown that he is selfish and misrepresents what it means to be an African-American player with the power to change and the athletic influence to have ownership acquiesce to your demands. 

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is showing the typical uncompromised support for Brown in hopes that the receiver will get himself in camp and start helping on the field with no hard feelings towards anyone in the organization. 

It’s rare to see Gruden tiptoeing around, but that shows how much the Raiders have invested in Brown and how desperately they need him to be successful. AB has the power to make Gruden and Oakland’s ownership look like straight fools. 

It’s a rare power that he’s earned, at the same time, some people wish he could utilize more effectively.

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