Raiders' suspension threat to Antonio Brown proved empty, and coddling of a superstar continues

Senior NFL writer
Yahoo Sports

And just like that, all is forgiven.

The Oakland Raiders and Antonio Brown have seemingly made amends after weeks of never-ending drama that played out like a TV script from “All My Children.” Or worse, “Passions.”

Somehow, the embarrassment of this incessant spectacle wasn’t enough for this dysfunctional marriage to be put asunder. Not even a heated exchange between Brown and general manager Mike Mayock — which included the word “cracker” allegedly being hurled by Brown (a claim the receiver has since denied) — was enough evidence that this partnership is untenable.

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For better or worse.

For richer or poorer.

In sickness and in health.

This ill-fated union will continue for the foreseeable future.

Because in the NFL, talent trumps everything.

Knock on wood, if you’re with me.

Antonio Brown got what amounted to bad publicity and a day off work after his blowup with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. (Getty Images)
Antonio Brown got what amounted to bad publicity and a day off work after his blowup with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. (Getty Images)

A day after the organization seemed poised to suspend Brown for Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, head coach Jon Gruden put the rumors to rest before Friday’s practice.

“Antonio is back today,” the coach said. “We’re really excited about that and ready to move on. He’s had a lot of, obviously, time to think about things and we’re happy to have him back and I know Raider Nation is excited about that, too.”

The threat of a possible suspension — and the realization that he’d stand to forfeit $29 million in guaranteed money — gave way to Brown issuing an “emotional apology” to his teammates.

“Enough talk now,” he told reporters. “I’m excited to be out here now with my teammates. I’m grateful for all the fans.”

In life, you get what you pay for. And Oakland has made a sizable investment in Brown: Two draft picks (a third- and fifth-rounder), plus a new three-year contract worth more than $50 million.

The talent he possesses is worth it. The 31-year-old is arguably the best receiver in the game. A seven-time Pro Bowler. A four-time All-Pro selection. He’s so sneaky, so shifty, so gifted, he can can disguise whatever flaws exist in Derek Carr’s game. He’s a deep threat who can single-handedly take over a game.

A dangerous weapon the Raiders were desperate to have. And even more desperate to keep in the fold.

But are the distractions — and the questions about Brown’s desire to play football — worth the headache? Obviously, Mayock and Gruden think so.

That’s why the plan is for Brown to suit up against the Broncos on Monday night instead of sit at home serving a suspension.

The threat of discipline was just that. A threat. Nothing more.

Mayock recently challenged Brown publicly, saying, “It’s time for him to be all-in or all-out.” Two weeks later, the two reportedly were engaged in a heated confrontation before the team even played a regular-season game.

Brown will undoubtedly bear the brunt of fans’ ire and frustration, and deservedly so. But the Raiders’ front office is just as culpable for this dysfunction.

Mayock and Gruden acquired Brown from Pittsburgh in spite of the red flags. They restructured his contract and opted to give him even more money. And they’ve continued to enable him in recent weeks.

All of the shenanigans — Brown's frostbitten feet, his repeated and unexcused absences and his grievances over an old, but unsafe helmet — weren’t enough to part ways due to irreconcilable differences.

All because he’s Antonio Brown. One of the best players in the league.

For better or worse.

For richer or poorer.

In sickness and in health.

This tenuous union will continue for the foreseeable future. Because in the NFL, talent trumps everything.

Knock on wood, if you’re with me.

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