9/6/19 By: Matt Gutierrez
Antonio Brown has yet to play a single down as a Raider. After Thursday’s fiasco, there’s a very good chance he never will.
With the opening Monday Night Football game vs Denver less than a week away, Brown finds himself in the middle of yet another controversy. Like the rest, this one was self inflicted.
After posting his frustration on Instagram with the fine letter Raiders GM, Mike Mayock sent him, the two got into an altercation on Wednesday night. According to the report by ESPN insider Adam Schefter, Brown confronted Mayock and threatened to “punch him in the face.”
The Raiders have been brief in their comments following Schefter’s report saying only that Brown wasn’t at practice on Thursday, and they would comment further when they knew more. Jon Gruden has stood by his star wide receiver through the cryo chamber foot issue as well as the helmet issue. But the fact remains that Brown has missed significant time because of his own negligence, and his teammates are now the ones who will suffer.
So where do the Raiders go from here? Should they suspend Brown; cut him; fine him; just brush it all under the table? I think there are cases to be made for each.
A suspension seems like the most likely scenario. Brown is as talented as they come. No WR in NFL history has had a better six year run that Brown just put together. For an offense that struggled last season to find the endzone with any consistency, Brown is the missing link. He gives QB Derek Carr a “go to” weapon and opens the field up for everyone else. Suspending Brown sends a message to him and his teammates that no one is above the team while keeping him on the roster with the hope of salvaging the relationship.
Simply fining Brown wouldn’t be enough. Brown is set to make in the neighborhood of $15M this season. Any fine the team levied on him would be nothing more than a drop in the bucket to Brown.
How about forgetting any of this ever happened, and go back to football as normal? This can NOT happen. The Raiders brought in three guys this offseason that all have a checkered past, Brown being one of them. Linebacker, Vontez Berfict has been fined and suspended for illegal hits on more than one occasion during his time as a Bengal. Offensive linemen, Richie Incognito has bullied players in the locker room, and had multiple off the field issues that resulted in him being suspended for the first two games of this season. Those two guys are there to play ball, and have shown that they are willing to do whatever it takes to be a part of that team. What message does that send to them if Brown is simply given a slap on the wrist? They have to stay in line but the star WR can act like a damn fool? You don’t want that kind of discourse before the first snap of the season has even taken place.
Gruden and Mayock need to establish the rules now, and make sure all 53 men in that locker room understand what the consequences will be for behavior detrimental to the team. But none of that will matter in Brown’s case if he isn’t willing to be a better teammate.
Brown should be suspended. He should miss the first two games in Oakland. The Raiders won’t play in Oakland for six weeks following their week 2 game vs KC. That’s a lot of bonding time for Brown and his team. If Brown can be an adult about this, take some responsibility, and get right with himself, then there is hope for him in the Silver and Black this season. If he’s not willing to do that, then he has to go. There really isn’t any point in keeping a headache like that if he isn’t mature enough to want to be better.
I honestly believe everyone in that locker room wants him on the field come Sunday. He’s the best at what he does. He makes that team better. Let’s all hope that Antonio Brown realizes that sooner than later, and makes a legitimate effort to be part of the Raiders future.