In yesterday’s rant, I mentioned in passing that I would not be shocked to see someone link Antonio Brown’s “unusual behavior” over the past year or so to CTE. Remember that brutal headshot he received from Vontaze Burfict in a playoff game in 2016; if the progression of CTE is indeed cumulative, that hit has to go on the ledger as an “asset” for CTE advancement. I am in no position to assess the validity of such a linkage but having said that I think someone might try to find some causality there, I got to thinking about Brown’s “unusual behavior” over the past year.
Antonio Brown follows a line of WRs in the NFL who are simultaneously:
- Outstanding on the field – – and – –
- Divas off the field.
Please note that WRs who fit into this category are a subset of “Outstanding WRs”. When I say the name Raymond Berry or Fred Biletnikoff or Marvin Harrison or Tommy McDonald or Jerry Rice or Charley Taylor, you should associate any of those names with “Outstanding WR” because all of them are in the Hall of Fame justifiably. In addition, none of them come close to being in the classification of “Diva”.
Having said that, the evolutionary niche “Outstanding WR AND Diva” is well populated by the likes of:
- Odell Beckham, Jr.
- Chad Johnson – – Chad Ochocinco – -and then Chad Johnson once again
- Randy Moss
- Terrell Owens – – in addition to – –
- Antonio Brown.
But there is a difference… All five of the examples above have been “look at me” type players and have been “locker room distractions” often based on their “look at me” proclivities but none of them have exhibited behavior(s) that venture into “Sociopath State”. Antonio Brown now stands accused of sexual assault, felony battery, burglary and probably some other transgressions that slip my mind now. Those behaviors are very different from:
- Taking a swing at a kicking net on the sidelines during a game
- Being a locker room disruption
- Taking plays off when your number isn’t called
- Being asked to leave the team and holding a press conference while doing sit-ups in your driveway.
Antonio Brown was arrested and then released on bail by a judge in Florida who made it a condition of his bail that he sit for a psychological assessment. That could be a big deal for Antonio Brown assuming that he cooperates, and that the psychologist does a serious work up and does not just go through the motions such that the judge will not question his effort on the task. From my purely layman’s perspective, Antonio Brown needs help in his life from the experts in the mental health community. Perhaps, this is a portal for him to enter a space where he can get some assistance.
Switching gears… ESPN has done a re-start on its investigative news program Outside the Lines. The original incarnation was chaired by Bob Ley for more than 25 years; it started as a weekly feature and then became a daily program in 2003. It has been in hiatus for about a year and has returned as a weekly program – chaired by Jeremy Schapp this time. I am a little surprised by this decision by the suits at ESPN.
Under the current regime at “The Worldwide Leader”, the idea has been for the network’s on-camera talent to tread very lightly when it comes to “political” or “cultural” matters and focus like a laser on “sports”. Whether you agree with that vector heading is not pertinent here; what matters is that it is the corporate ethos at the moment and that means that Outside the Lines will have a tightrope to walk with some of its stories.
Given that the reincarnated version of Outside the Lines is a weekly, that should allow Schapp and the staff there the luxury of “aging” some of the stories to allow for the edge to wear off potential aspects that could push the story into areas that management would prefer to avoid. This will not be a trivial undertaking, but Jeremy Schapp is as close as ESPN has on its staff to Bob Ley; this could be an interesting “re-start”.
Every once in a while, I find something interesting in the agate type section of the Washington Post sports section which I scan daily. Here is a recent item that caught my attention:
“Washington Redskins: Named Brett Nenaber director of player performance and Jeff Zegonia assistant defensive line coach.”
I can imagine what the responsibilities of an “assistant defensive line coach” might be for an NFL team; I may not have the full scope of the duties of that position in mind, but I think I have the drift. Such is not nearly the case with the position of “director of player performance”. Is he the guy who works with the team on those choreographed TD celebrations that sometimes rise all the way up to the level of “SILLY”?
Finally, leave it to The Onion to summarize a lot of thinking into a simple headline for a piece of its satire:
“NCAA determines becoming a Bengal punishment enough for Joe Burrow taking cash from Odell Beckham.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………