On Monday, ESPN dropped a very lengthy comprehensive breakdown on the life of Antonio Brown.
It revealed a person who has been dealing with irate up and down emotions throughout his entire life, which has been thrust to the forefront in 2019 and has him currently out of the league and waiting for the league to finish their investigation to give him a chance to sign with a team for 2020.
Some of the highlights of the story include Brown seeing ghosts, calling Ben Roethlisberger a cracker for trying to ban music in the locker room, and possibly not dealing with his a sexual assault accusation if he had just paid millions of dollars to his accuser.
“I saw ghosts,” Antonio commonly replied.
“He had bad dreams pretty often,” Desmond says now. “It’s like he sensed stuff.”
Even with the relaxed barricades around him, Brown often welcomed conflict, which many teammates noticed in his love-hate relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. If Brown had a problem, he wouldn’t hold back in voicing his frustration, including once when Roethlisberger tried to enforce his no-music policy in the locker room. “F— you, cracker,” Brown responded, according to one Steeler. The two usually hashed things out, but Brown’s in-your-face, confrontational style became exhausting to some players who just wanted to come to work without issue.
Brown couldn’t discuss the case with the Raiders because of an ongoing civil suit, Rosenhaus says. But in fact, he came close to avoiding all the public scrutiny: Attorneys for Brown and Taylor spent much of the summer negotiating a settlement. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that the amount was $2 million, and it almost happened. “It was at the 1-yard line,” a source says.
But Brown wouldn’t sign off on the deal.”
The story then talked about his teammates dealing with a different AB after he got paid and him going crazy after incoming WR JuJu Smith-Schuster won team MVP over him.
For most of Brown’s career, teammates and friends knew that at any point he could “flip a switch,” says one ex-teammate — in fact, some close to Brown believe that’s what made him the player that he is.
“If he wasn’t as crazy and sporadic as he really is, I’m not sure he’d be the same player,” says one source. “That kind of made him who he was, wanting to prove everybody wrong. That brought the best and worst out of him.”
But many point specifically to his massive contract extension in February 2017 — four years, $68 million — as a turning point. That’s when, some friends and ex-teammates say, the superstar behavior became more frequent, the distractions unavoidable, the ability to hold time commitments more flimsy.
“All that fame and money can go to your head, I guess,” says Desmond, who now has minimal contact with the brother who once helped pay for his tuition at the University of Pittsburgh and bought him his first Jeep Wrangler. “I don’t know.”
Others point to a perceived power struggle that led to the breakup of the Killer B’s (Brown, Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell). One team source believes Brown’s decision to skip multiple workdays during the final week of the 2018 season was to facilitate a trade or because he was genuinely unhappy with Tomlin prioritizing the quarterback above the game’s best receiver. It didn’t help that JuJu Smith-Schuster won team MVP — an award voted on by players during the last week of the season — over Brown.
“[Tomlin] cares enough about the guy to not want to see him fall down the slippery slope,” says one source familiar with the Tomlin-Brown dynamic. “Sometimes he didn’t know where the hell he was. But they had a lot of good years together.”
Brown’s behavior has seen him get traded from the Steelers to the Raiders, never playing a game for them after he caused so much disruption, they had no choice but to release him. He would then sign a 1-year deal with the Patriots that would last eleven days before they cut ties with him for allegedly harassing another sexual assault accuser.
His career is now in limbo as he awaits the league to finish out their investigation.
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