The Real Reason No One is Covering For Antonio Brown Anymore

For a brief moment in time, things seemed to be turning out exactly the way Antonio Brown wanted them to. Allegedly in Kahoots with the New England Patriots, Brown managed to get out of his deal with the Oakland Raiders and land in Foxborough in record time. The celebration for the famed wide receiver was short-lived, however. Within a week Brown was ousted from New England’s roster when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, and his legal troubles have only compounded since then. The problems that Brown is facing are nothing new. In fact, the allegations stretch back years. So, why did it take so long for Brown’s behavior to come to light, and why isn’t anyone covering for him now? The answer is probably a bit more complicated than you think.

Antonio Brown left the comfort of Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Steelers is an organization known for its player-centric tactics and its high threshold for shenanigans. When Brown signed with the Steelers way back in 2012, it was probably the best landing spot possible for someone who is now being described as a “loose cannon.”

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The Steelers player-friendly persona stretches back long before Antonio Brown showed up in town. Back in 2010, they dealt with accusations of sexual misconduct against Ben Roethlisberger by keeping things quiet. While Ben Roethlisberger sat out for four games, no one really mentioned the incident again. The event in question involved Roethlisberger allegedly assaulting a college student in a hotel room, according to Vice.

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They also kept things quiet when Brown kicked up trouble in the locker room, on the sidelines, and while out and about. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that allegations against Brown, including sexual misconduct and a lawsuit stemming from the trashing of a condo, have only been made public now that he’s away from the safety of the Steelers’ locker room.

Brown’s star is on the decline

Brown’s lack of backup during his recent stream of drama might have a little something to do with his star power. While he finished the 2018-2019 NFL season with solid stats, it can’t be forgotten that he’s an aging wide receiver.

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At 31, Brown is nine years into his NFL career. According to Bleacher Report, the average NFL player manages a career that lasts about ten and a half seasons, although their skills begin to decline around the age of 27.  Sure, some players last substantially longer in the league, like Tom Brady, but that’s an exception, not the rule.

While it’s possible that Brown could have lasted for another decade in the NFL, at some point his skills are going to decline, and his speed is going to slow down. That is just the nature of aging and its possible that team management is seeing the end of the Brown era in sight.

Frankly, he’s become a liability

When a player is exceptional, they are given a long leash.  The Giants dealt with Odell Beckham Jr.’s sideline antics for several seasons because of his ability to catch a ball one-handed, for example.  The Steelers put up with Brown’s temper tantrums because he was that good, but at some point, there is a tipping point. NFL teams need to decide how to deal with troubled players, and the decision seems to come down to a simple pro-con list.

Antonio Brown looks on during Warm-ups in December 2018
Antonio Brown | Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

When their off-the-field drama outweighs the player’s onfield contributions, it’s time to cut ties. It seems like the most recent allegations against Brown tipped the scales out of his favor, and he’s not happy about it. In the wake of his release from the Patriots, Brown took to Twitter to lambast the league and individual people. He took aim at Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots. Kraft, who axed Brown, was caught in a prostitution sting earlier in the year. He also took a shot at Roethlisberger for his past issues with sexual misconduct. There is no love lost between Brown and Big Ben.