Super Bowl LV interviews have been held virtually this week. Players from the Buccaneers and Chiefs sit staring into a screen as reporters ask questions.
It would be more appropriate if Antonio Brown was instead looking in a mirror. That’s an exercise he seems to avoid.
There was always something more serious and troubling than funny about Brown and his bizarre journey that delivered him to this place, a wide receiver for Tampa Bay as it prepares to face Kansas City on Sunday.
His past behavior certainly suggested the potential for mental health issues, a question that loomed large during his short time with the Raiders. Even now, Brown seems to view his issues as having been created by the outside world and through no fault of his own.
“It’s all about controlling your emotions … when you don’t feel good,” he said. “Not being a slingshot when others come at me. Learning how to control my attitude and not letting my emotions get the best of me even if I feel someone was wrong for doing what they did. Just forgiving.”
Coming back to play in the NFL for the Buccaneers, Brown said, “was my only chance to prove to the doubters that I’m still myself, that I’m still a high-end football player who still loves to compete. Never gave up. Never gave in.”
He did during a near 30-minute availability Wednesday say often how grateful and blessed he was for this opportunity, one handed him by the Buccaneers when they signed him in October as the veteran was serving an eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
He never played a snap for the Raiders, a failed signing by the team that resulted in it releasing Brown in September of 2019. Mike Mayock would later take the blame for going down the road at all, the general manager saying he was sure the team would get a proven ultra-talented receiver instead of all the drama and nonsense.
There was a lot of the latter.
It’s not a matter of what has extended Brown’s career at age 32, but rather who. He has found a champion in the ultimate of champions. Tom Brady supported the Patriots’ signing Brown after he was released by the Raiders and again when the quarterback landed in Tampa Bay this season and injuries had the Buccaneers lacking serious depth at receiver.
“I don’t have any preconceived notions with how things will go or should go,” Brady said. “I try to, in my own way, be a positive influence. I think (Brown) has made incredible strides over the last 12 months to get where he was to where he is now. Everyone deals with life. It’s not the easiest thing.
“Care for people more. Allow them to blossom because you believe in them and want them to succeed. Invest time and see them grow.”
All good and yet Brady also knows this: Brown remains incredibly talented. Quarterbacks tend to love those sorts of guys.
Not a victim
Brown is nursing a sore knee and has not yet been announced fit for Sunday, but appears trending in the direction of playing. In just eight regular-season games this season, he had 45 receptions for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He can still go get it.
His explanation aside, he is no victim to all that transpired in his life prior to this moment, every bit responsible for each transgression. It was all so funny and then got serious and then worrisome, with the potential for much deeper problems.
“I want my legacy to be a guy that was persistent, a guy that never gave up, no matter the odds, no matter the hate,” Brown said. “A sixth-round kid from Central Michigan that never gave up. A guy who had the will of a champion.”
A guy who stared at a Zoom screen Wednesday but would be better served looking in a mirror.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.