Mr. Big Chest’s Most Recent Misadventure
For my first post of 2022, will I talk about history, politics, the environment?
Surprisingly, none of these. Let’s take a Segway-sorry, segue- from the usual topics into the world of professional sports, and the unique individual named Antonio Brown, nicknamed “AB” and “Mr. Big Chest.” AB most recently played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a Wide Receiver, and if you follow sports even slightly, you saw how he quit his job in epic fashion mid-game versus the Jets last Sunday.
For those of you who played team sports, can you imagine stripping down out of your equipment and running away? Despite how shocking AB’s exit appeared to be, athletes quitting mid-competition is not novel. It’s not common to be sure, though it’s happened before. After the game, Coach Bruce Arians said AB is “no longer a Buc” while AB released a rap/hip-hop track (lyrics) and showed up courtside at a Nets game, in no hurry to get back to Florida.
Today, per sports journalist Ian Rapoport, AB released a long statement, contending he had considerable ankle pain, visited a specialist, scheduled surgery and told Coach Arians he couldn’t play multiple times. I can’t definitively say who is correct here but I’ll gladly pop some popcorn and watch the drama.
Many fans and sportscasters speculate AB’s intriguing behavior is due to brutal hits sustained during his career, culminating in a case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the most cited being former linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s head to head collusion with Brown in the 2016 playoffs.
While this is certainly possible, it’s hard for me to attribute all of AB’s dubious actions to CTE or some other malady. He had a hard upbringing which seems to have resulted in a “me first” personality which is understandable but could’ve easily led him down a path of ignoring others’ rights and needs. Long before the hit occurred, he fought with a security guard, earning a university expulsion and was a mega-dick at a charity event.
It’s intriguing how distinct generations reacted to AB’s behavior. Former Steelers great QB Terry Bradshaw said “Put him in a straightjacket and take him to some hospital.” Current Bucs QB Tom Brady asked for compassion and empathy. These two differing reactions-Bradshaw’s are crude and offensive, to be sure- illustrate rival schools of thought: people are victims of circumstance, shaped by their environment or people are ultimately products of their own choices.
While I get Brady comes off as understanding and caring, remember the extent of his and Brown’s relationship. They won a Super Bowl together, which is bound to produce bonding feelings. Look at AB’s run-ins with non-NFL greats.
His former trainer accused him of rape and ejaculating on her back, then threatening her with pictures of her children. A moving company driver accused him of theft and assault. He went 100 mph in a 45 zone. This year, he was suspended multiple games for falsifying a vaccine card-a federal offense! Again, some of these are allegations, but time and time again, in different states, in different areas of society, Brown finds himself on the wrong side of situations and the law. At some point, our sympathy and compassion wear out.
How would Brady react if Brown assaulted his wife or one of his kids? Sped through his neighborhood, endangering people? Brady’s perspective is limited, because he sees a side of Brown others didn’t and won’t get to see.
Imagine if an ordinary Joe Schmo did even a quarter of what AB is accused of. How patient would society be with his behavior, even if it was due to a medical condition beyond his control? I’m guessing not much. Brown helped make the NFL a lot of money and entertained millions, including myself. If AB were a plumber, salesman, teacher or what have you not making millions of dollars, only affecting a core group of people, then our patience for his shenanigans would’ve worn out ages ago.
Do the NFL owe Brown some medical treatment and/or other support because they benefit from the gladiatorial games he got subjected to?
Does the NFL need to acknowledge the role the game plays in former players’ mental and physical health problems after they retire?
Should the general public hope for the sake of himself, his kids, friends and family, AB gets his shit sorted out?
Should AB get a pass for everything he’s done, even if he has CTE?
We must remember the worst stuff AB has done occurred off the football field and some of it when his NFL career was very young. And that sometimes, elaborate explanations aren’t needed for douchebaggery.
Some people are dicks.
Mr. Big Chest might be one, CTE or no.