Asked about Antonio Brown on Sunday morning, Bill Belichick trotted out a variant of his trademark cranky “We’re on to Cincinnati” act. But what was once cute and curmudgeonly now feels as dated as an “NFL’s Hardest Hits” VCR tape.
To bring you up to date: The Patriots claimed they had no idea there were sexual assault allegations against Brown out in the air when they signed him ... and yet they kept him on the roster even though team owner Robert Kraft said he wouldn’t have signed Brown had he known. Then another woman came forward accusing Brown of sexual assault, and still he remained on the roster. After that, alleged text messages surfaced in which Brown appeared to call for an attack on the second accuser’s credibility. A few hours after that, Brown was off the Patriots.
So when CBS’s Dana Jacobson got a moment with Belichick prior to Sunday’s game with the Jets, there was an obvious question: Why now, at last?
Bill Belichick gave the death stare... pic.twitter.com/czX2KJ9G0D
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 22, 2019
Nothing like a bit of dead-eyed sanctimony when you’re getting asked a perfectly valid question about why you carried water for a guy only until he wasn’t useful anymore. The Patriots had multiple opportunities to cut Brown prior to Friday, but kept him in uniform as long as it was politically sustainable.
Jacobson will no doubt get plenty of grief from the kind of fans who believe a team is a religion, coaches are high priests and players are useful but disposable. But she asked the right question at the right time, and Belichick’s scowl only proves she was on point. Nobody on earth — probably not even most of the Patriots — cares about Belichick’s perspective on the woeful Jets, but the way Antonio Brown has clowned the entire league — Belichick included — is the most fascinating story of the year.
This isn’t the first time Belichick has dodged questions about AB. Friday, before Brown’s release, Belichick ended a news conference in a hurry after reporters wouldn’t stop asking about the most newsworthy story of the week:
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 20, 2019
Belichick can run the Patriots any way he pleases — carving rosters with all the compassion that you’d slice a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, staring down anyone who’s not of immediate use to him — and results show that it works for him. But we’re outside the walls of Gillette Stadium now, and the rest of the world doesn’t need to play by Belichick’s rules. Brown certainly isn’t anymore, and it’s valid to ask why, after 11 days of welcome-to-the-family love, the Patriots suddenly decided he was too much trouble after all.
It’s clear the Patriots screwed up by signing Brown in the first place, and then by hanging onto him afterward. The Patriots don’t make many mistakes, but this was a big one, and it’s time for Belichick to own up to it. Without mumbling or scowling, either.
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