by Luke Morissette
A summary of one of the hardest falls of recent sports history.
Since the day he was drafted in 2010, Antonio Brown has been widely regarded as one of, if not the best wide receiver in the NFL. Now, the 2x receiving yards champion is no longer regarded as highly as he was. After an up and down 2018-19 season and a one-game long 2019-20 season, it appears Brown will never play football again. How did such a strong and established nine-year veteran go from All-Pro to retirement in one season? It’s a long story.
The story begins in December of 2018. The Steelers had recently lost to the New Orleans Saints in a game where Brown totaled 185 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, AB balled out. Brown was understandably upset but took it a little far when he skipped practice that week. This was closely followed by a one-game suspension for Brown from his Head Coach, Mike Tomlin. This was the beginning of the end for Brown. Immediately after the 2018-19 season ended Brown requested a trade from the franchise he had been with since his draft day in 2010.
AB continued to aggravate Steelers fans even after requesting a trade, taking public shots at the association and even players on the team. The most notable of these insults was one directed towards, “the most likable guy in the NFL” (Bankowski 20’), Juju Smith-Schuster. Brown tweeted in response to an award Smith-Schuster had won, “boy fumbled the whole postseason in the biggest game of year ! Everyone went blind to busy making guys famous not enough reality these days !” I know, all those who took a 4th-grade grammar course are thinking I just fed you a meaningless jumble of words, but I assure you that Brown’s intentions were far from pure. It was after this tweet that the once-beloved sweetheart that was ABeast became a disgrace to the entire organization.
Brown was eventually traded to the Raiders and began his preparations for the 2019-20 season. This included: doing cryotherapy with recommended protective shoes and getting frostbite, threatening the NFL, saying he wouldn’t play next season unless he could wear a helmet that had been deemed unsafe, and eventually requesting a release from a team that he had never even played a preseason game for. Brown had officially become the arch-nemesis of two organizations in less than a year.
What followed was a decision rivaled only by Kevin Durant’s decision to sign with the Warriors. Brown signed with the Patriots the day after his release. Brown was now a disgrace to the entire NFL. Even Patriots fans didn’t like him. I spoke to Will Phillips 21’ after Brown was signed and he said, “I’m happy we got him… but I still don’t like him.” What followed was the darkest part of Antonio Brown’s journey yet. Soon after Brown’s signing with the Patriots, one of Brown’s old trainers accused him of sexual assault. This was the last straw for Brown, after playing just one game with the Patriots, another woman accused Brown of similar misconduct.
The Pats dropped Antonio Brown on September 20th. Brown retired the next day. I spoke to passionate Steelers fan, Marlie Giles 21’, about her thoughts on Brown’s downfall, “It’s a shame but honestly, he did it to himself. Getting those allegations is karma for signing with Patriots.” Giles truly captures the self-destruction of Brown with her statement. Poor decision after poor decision has left Brown as one of the most hated people in the football world.