How you ever dated someone and the relationship ended, but one of the parties just hasn’t moved on? Well, it is happening in the NFL with new Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown and his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After Brown quit on the Steelers before their season finale against Cincinnati, he requested a trade from the team. This despite all of the success he’s had with the franchise. Rather than denying his request, the Steelers and ownership thought it was better for both sides to go in different directions. So the Steelers traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders last month.
Of course, the Raiders didn’t just trade for Brown. They also tacked onto Brown’s contract over $30 million of guaranteed money when they didn’t have to. That should have been enough to satisfy Brown and keep him quiet. However, that certainly hasn’t been the case.
Brown’s feud with former teammates
This offseason, Brown has thrown professionalism out the window as he has taken shots at Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and, most recently, fellow receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown and former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell didn’t have the best relationship with Roethlisberger, and some of that was understandable. Roethlisberger has called out several teammates, including Brown on weekly radio appearances.
But why call out Smith-Schuster? On Twitter, a fan tweeted Brown a graphic with Smith-Schuster as the Steelers 2018 MVP as a response to Brown telling fans to “keep your emotions off the internet.” Brown blasted Smith-Schuster and the fan by saying “boy [Smith-Schuster] fumbled the whole postseason in the biggest game of the year! Everyone went blind too busy making guys famous not enough reality these days!”
Later, Brown posted an Instagram direct message that Smith-Schuster sent him while at USC. In it, Smith-Schuster was simply asking for ways to elevate his game. It seems like now more than ever, Brown loves to be the center of attention, even if it is in a negative light.
Brown’s transformation in Pittsburgh
Somewhere along the line, Brown seemingly forgot how to be the hard-working teammate that was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Early in his career, Brown was willing to do anything to get on the football field. Brown even contributed to the Steelers as a kick returner and punt returner his first few seasons in the league.
Perhaps it was 2016 when things started to take a downward turn in Pittsburgh. This is when Brown posted head coach Mike Tomlin’s locker room comments about the Patriots on Facebook Live prior to their AFC title game matchup. Regardless of what sparked this downward spiral, though, Brown is now the Raiders problem.
Can the Raiders manage Brown?
Many years ago in 2005, the Raiders also traded for another controversial receiver by the name of Randy Moss. But Moss was traded to New England after just two losing seasons and disappointing production. Many believe that, like Brown in Pittsburgh, Moss quit on his team in Oakland. Although Jon Gruden is a better-equipped coach to handle a player like this than Norv Turner and Art Shell were, the Raiders better hope history doesn’t repeat itself with Brown.
Brown has already shown he has quit on one franchise, as evidenced by last year’s season finale. And if things don’t go exactly to plan with the Raiders, what makes anyone think Brown won’t do it again? His former team has been the model of consistency in the NFL for years. Brown’s new team, however, has had only one season above .500 since 2002.
Gruden and the Raiders should talk with Brown and his behavior on social media. Perhaps Brown should take a break from Twitter and Instagram and focus on his new team in the Bay Area.
Breakups are tough for anyone, and professional athletes like Brown aren’t any different.