Antonio Brown’s Return to the NFL

Antonio Brown's Return to the NFL

We have seen the upside of Antonio Brown’s career; the electrifying, highly-productive years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, building himself into the league’s best receiver and a big enough star to grace the cover of Madden.

Those memories and successes are why he has a chance again now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and why, in one of the stranger stories of the season, Tom Brady invited Brown to come and live at his house. At his best, Brown has the explosiveness, playmaking, and creativity to take the 6-2 Bucs and give them genuine hope of a deep postseason run.

Brown’s checkered path, not even including the off-field troubles that I’ll touch upon momentarily, has also provided a glimpse of how things could go in Central Florida, and why a swift, regret-filled exit would be far from a surprise.

Brown’s stint with the Las Vegas Raiders, then still based in Oakland, lasted six months, accrued $54,000 in fines for missed team activities, resulting in not a single minute of NFL action. His subsequent time with the New England Patriots, where he and Brady first connected, lasted just one game.

Last weekend, the Bucs took on the New Orleans Saints, and all we could do was sit back and watch what could become one of the most compelling adventures of this year’s campaign or a vat of nothingness that is forgotten in a few weeks. Brown had a total of 3 receptions for 31 yards, an underwhelming outcome.

Amid this all is the reality that there are troubling narratives at play. Brown’s return to the National Football League cannot be treated as a football story alone, because it isn’t. It is the tale of an extraordinarily talented player who is now on his fourth team in 20 months and has recently attracted focus for all the wrong reasons.

Within the past year, Brown has twice been accused of sexual misconduct, with one of the accusers suing him in a civil lawsuit due to go to trial in December. He is also on probation for felony burglary following an incident in January involving a Florida moving truck company employee, which prompted his release from the Patriots.

“Hopefully I can change their perspective,” Brown said in an interview with ESPN. “Being here, around great people in a great organization, hopefully I can win them over in my actions in how I move forward and how I handle my business.”

No matter what, for now at least, Brown is going to be quite the story. Whether it is a feel-good comeback page-turner or the continuation of a fall from grace will soon be seen.