If you told Antonio Brown that walking off the field in January would garner him more attention than winning a Super Bowl, he probably wouldn’t have believed it.
That fateful day at MetLife Stadium, the mercurial Brown undressed and left the field as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers battled the New York Jets. Since then, Brown has become president of Kanye West’s Donda Sports and a rapper, while dating and then Twitter-dumping songstress Keisha Cole (just days after she allegedly got a tattoo of his name). It’s safe to say that Brown has been a busy man since he last stepped on the gridiron.
Brown’s career statistics are Hall of Fame-worthy; 12,291 yards receiving, 928 grabs and 83 TDs. He’s clearly been one of the transcendent receivers of his generation, but his erratic behavior over the past few years of his career and the bridges he’s burned with some influential people have many questioning if he’ll ever get the call to the Canton that he’s earned on the field.
One of those folks who believes he has no shot is analyst Rich Eisen. The well-respected vet talked about that on a recent episode of “The Rich Eisen” show.
“I saw a soundbite and I just thought, this is the saddest. I remember interviewing Antonio Brown back on ‘Thursday Night Football.’ He balled out. … May have been year one, potentially year two for him. … And this was a time when Mike Wallace, remember him? He wanted his money and the Steelers were like, no, go to Miami.”
“And they paid him, Brown, instead because he was a kid who was not only terrific but reliable and wanted to win and wanted to work his butt off to win. And it was obvious to everyone. Twelve seasons he’s played and the first nine in Pittsburgh were Hall of Fame-worthy.”
Eisen even talked about the backlog of receivers that are waiting their turn to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That puts Brown’s candidacy on even thinner ice, and his many antics don’t help his cause.
“This guy could have been in Canton, and you’re sitting there saying he still should be in Canton!’ Anquan Boldin is not in Canton yet. Torry Holt’s not in Canton yet. Hines Ward deserves to get a spot in front of him. I don’t think he’s ever going to get a shot in Canton. And that is absolutely as sad as it comes.”
Brown’s Body Of Work Is Canton Worthy: BUT
Brown already has more receiving yards than Hall of Famers Michael Irvin, Calvin Johnson, and a host of others. In fact, he’s 24th all-time in receptions. Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones are the only active players with more yards. Brown’s 84.2 receiving yards per game rank fifth all-time. The seven-time Pro Bowl player and four-time first-team All-Pro also led the league in receptions twice and he was named to 2010’s All-Decade Team.
The accolades speak for themselves, but for a fraternity that takes character into consideration Brown will be on the outside looking in for some time. It would take a huge reconciliation with the NFL.
Another angle of AB running off of the field shirtless during a Bucs offensive drive. pic.twitter.com/YWAUvTxHq1
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 2, 2022
Brown Threw Away Steelers Legendary Status
Yes, Brown’s stats scream “Steel City” legend, but in a city where elite receivers such as Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Hines Ward all helped lead their teams to Super Bowl wins, Brown is the odd man out despite being the most dominant of the quartet.
The difference is those other Hall of Famers and soon to be Hall of Famer (Ward) didn’t let outside distractions affect them or the team. Their main focus was all football and the Steelers. At one time, Brown carried himself in that way, but he changed. That led to him being traded several times, and he’s never been the same. Now he says he’s done, and his chances for Canton were probably done some time ago.