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Clad in an anti-suicide smock and looking very much still in NFL game shape, Antonio Brown appeared in a Broward County (Florida) bond court Friday in what everyone can only hope is rock bottom for the troubled wide receiver.
Brown, 31, turned himself into authorities the night before on charges of burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief of less than $1,000. It all stems from Brown and his personal trainer allegedly beating up a moving truck driver over a dispute about the bill.
It was just the latest in a string of incidents, lawsuits, police encounters and troubling behavior by the one-time NFL star over the past 18 months or so.
Over prosecution requests to keep him imprisoned, Brown was given a bail of $110,000 and if he, as expected, posts that, he must surrender his passport and wear a GPS monitoring device.
Perhaps the most newsworthy development is that he has been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Trying to diagnose Brown’s mental situation from afar is impossible and perhaps unfair. Saying that he could use a real diagnosis from a real doctor isn’t. That’s been obvious for a while now.
The criminal justice system struggles to deal with this issue, but any kind of professional help is a good thing. And Brown, if it is determined he needs it, can certainly afford to get the proper assistance if he chooses to take it.
Simply put, something has to give here.
Brown’s behavior has gone from malcontent looking for ways to get out of playing for Pittsburgh and then Oakland to an on-the-edge train wreck. Police at his home. Lawsuits alleging sexual assault and misconduct. Instagram video of him screaming at police with his children present. Increasingly terrifying and delusional social media posts.
The man has been waving a red flag for an extended period now. Not to minimize the severity of the alleged attack that got him arrested, but how much longer will this be the extent of any physical violence … to others or himself?
It’s nearly impossible to help anyone who won’t help themselves, but the NFL, and the individuals who worked with Brown through the years, should collectively be trying.
This is long past whether a Hall of Fame-caliber talent will catch another NFL pass. He won’t. He shouldn’t.
This is about protecting Antonio Brown (and others) from Antonio Brown.
Did he burn bridges everywhere he went? Of course. Did he betray trust and destroy relationships throughout his football life? Without question.
It’s also somewhat clear that there is a reason he hasn’t been acting right of late, that whatever is causing this spiral is a considerable foe. It’s not the time for old coaches, peers or football executives who might have once wished his good riddance to hold onto that feeling. It’s more important to move past that for the sake of a former player in trouble.
Friday was a stark visual of just how far and how fast Antonio Brown has fallen. Fourteen months ago he was a Steelers legend. Last summer he was the star of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” In September he caught a Tom Brady touchdown pass and looked like he might be headed to the Super Bowl.
Well, the Super Bowl is in South Florida next week. The NFL and its annual carnival of excess is showing up.
Antonio Brown is there too, just up the road, a guy with a GPS monitor who authorities believed needed a shirt he couldn’t use to harm himself.
Maybe the mental health evaluation can be the first step to turning things around. Maybe someone from his past can get through to him and help him on the journey.
Maybe, if everyone, especially Antonio Brown, is lucky, Friday morning in that Broward bail court will be the lowest point of his life.
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