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The flare-ups of Antonio Brown have become so common and constant that there is an element of white noise that drowns them out. They’ve become easy to ignore.
Or if you still pay attention, then the reaction is too often through the prism of football, namely that, once again, the chance the gifted wide receiver ever plays in the NFL again becomes more remote (and more detestable).
However, as footage emerged Monday morning from Brown’s personal Instagram page of him berating his children’s mother, with police and the kids looking on, everyone who bears any association with the man should be snapped back into reality. (You can watch the incident here. Warning: Explicit language)
The guy needs help. There is no joy in grandstanding on that or playing pop psychologist. He looks like he needs help and if a professional diagnoses it otherwise, then great. Let’s get to that determination though.
It’s clear to the rest of us that Brown continues to carom about in bad places, mentally and emotionally. Just shrugging it off under the hope that this will pass or somehow work out (regardless of football) can’t continue. To stop caring about him because he’s not on a roster seems cruel.
Brown’s behavior ran him out of the NFL despite being one of the most productive and dangerous receivers going. That alone is almost impossible to do in a profession where talent trumps (nearly) everything.
He misbehaved his way out of Pittsburgh, then Oakland, then New England. That’s just the past 13 months. Some of it was boorish. Some of it was supposedly tactical. Some of the alleged acts were potentially criminal. None of it made much sense.
What went down Monday felt like a new bottom, at least in the public scope. This was a grown man not just screaming obscenities about a woman in front of the children they share, and not just doing it as police were present and trying to diffuse the situation, but a guy doing all of that while voluntarily broadcasting it live to his considerable social media audience.
It was sad. It was terribly sad.
These are the reddest of red flags. This is someone who doesn’t just need to wise up, he almost assuredly needs professional help to begin to even realize he isn’t always the misunderstood victim in everything.
It’s easy and understandable for old coaches, teammates, league officials and even football fans to be done with Antonio Brown. He’s done nothing for anyone of late, actually hurting many. He’s no doubt rebuffed plenty of offers for guidance or assistance.
Yet someone has to do something or at least continue to try to do something. The NFL needs to seek every intervention possible. The NFL does real work of late in trying to improve the game’s safety. That doesn’t mean the game is completely safe; it can’t be. It’s safer, though.
Well, no one knows for sure what AB is dealing with, but to say he doesn’t look like someone football has left beaten up and not the same isn’t a stretch. Can the NFL find a way?
Can the Steelers, where he enjoyed so many successful years? Yes, he burned professional bridges, to say the least. This, though, is personal now. Or should be. Are there old college coaches or teammates? High school? Anyone?
A healthy person doesn’t say what Antonio Brown said on Monday, not in front of the children he claims to love. A healthy person doesn’t send it out to the world so people can see it.
Physically, he may be everything he’s always been, a world class athlete in nearly every measurable.
There is more to health than physical though, and if non-professionals who witnessed this outburst can see obvious problems, can see the sadness, someone has to get him to a real doctor.
Whether he realizes it or not, Antonio Brown is calling out for help. With every regrettable incident, the question increasingly becomes, can anyone get it to him?
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