The NFL’s Black Sheep

Screen Grab via Antonio Brown Youtube Patriots Wide Receiver Antonio Brown gaze's into space in his latest Youtube post about his free agency.

Billy Trice

Sports Editor 

In February 2018 at the NBA All-Star weekend, Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar LeBron James started a trend that not many saw coming.

Player empowerment.

For years, the NBA players have made major strides in a battle of control of their own talent and marketability within their league.

From the implementation of free agency, the personal endorsements, and the introduction of the supermax contract; they all add to the player power within the NBA.

With this paradigm shift, players in other leagues started to take notice.

NFL players, in particular, have taken notice what’s going in the NBA and decided to push the boundaries of their own league.

Which brings me to the topic at hand, Antonio Brown.

This five-foot-ten-inch wide receiver was drafted in the sixth round out of Central Michigan and worked his tail off to be talked about now as one of the best to ever catch a ball in the history of the game.

For years, the NFL has been controlled by the owners and teams with little pushback from players, but ever since LeBron’s comments players have become more stern, especially Brown.

Brown left Pittsburgh because he felt he was being used for his talent and the organization did not want to understand and respect both Brown the player and the man.

He eventually forced a trade to the Oakland Raiders, but then he forced his release from the team for the same reasons he wanted out of Pittsburgh.

Now he has signed with the six-time Super Bowl champions New England Patriots.

Many national media personalities and fans have reacted very negatively towards AB because of his decision to relinquish some of the power that these organizations holdover players.

Instead of praising Brown for trying to break down the barriers that are put up to keep control away from players, they look at him as being “selfish” or a “locker room cancer.”

Antonio Brown’s situation is very similar to Allen “A.I.” Iverson story in the NBA.

Many of us thought that A.I. was crazy, hood, erratic, and ignorant, but he was far from that.

Hindsight would reveal that we were way off and he paved away for NBA stars to add personality to their brand on and off the court.

The same thing could be said for Brown, the NFL has been an owner-driven league since its debut 100 years ago and he is trying to change that narrative so that the players’ voice is not just heard but actually holds weight.

There’s this saying “one must be sacrificed for the good of many” and in this case, Brown might have to be the fall guy for the betterment of future NFL players. 

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