It should have been a fun debate.
Should the New England Patriots have taken on the enormously talented but equally disruptive Antonio Brown while trying to secure their 7th Super Bowl win? What if doing so might damage the chemistry and focus of the team?
The supporters of the move will talk of the presence of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They will claim that the winning culture will take the savage beast out of the receiver. The prolific pass catcher will stop freelancing his pass routes and whining about ball distribution. He will “Do his job,” as Patriot fans love to say.
Similiar Issues in the past
Not true, the detractors will counter. Remember the failed 2007-2009 Randy Moss experiment, when the Patriots lost their collective soul to a pass-heavy offense. Spearheaded by a prima donna WR, they prioritized individual stats and regular-season blowouts over winning titles. The locker room was fragmented and the culture dismantled. It was years before the Patriots recovered and won another Super Bowl. Antonio Brown has already shot his way out of two cities in 6 months. Why risk being the 3rd and putting Brady’s last years at risk when there is enough talent on the team to win without Brown?
Raging over the next several weeks, the argument would add interest to what promises to be a very boring first half of the season. Their toughest game in that stretch is behind them. The dismantling of the Steelers in Week 1 did little more than show that it’s time for Pittsburgh to begin the Mason Rudolph era. The discussion over Brown and his effect on the locker room would make the one-sided games against terrible teams at least somewhat bearable.
Now it’s not so fun anymore.
Last week, AB was accused of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault by Britney Taylor, a former gymnast who attended college with Brown and has worked with him as a personal trainer. The world will watch as the NFL mishandles the entire situation, because that’s what they do. Otherwise reasonable adults will be saying idiotic things like “nothing has been proven” or “she was probably asking for it”, because that’s what they do. We’ll have to watch another accuser being painted as the villain for daring to stand up and ask for justice, because that’s what society does. Listen to sports radio or conversations in the break room at work over the next few days, you’ll hear it.
Deep down the world knows the truth. No woman would ever bring this kind of scrutiny on herself unless there was some basis to the allegations. The material that’s been released is graphic and disturbing, but Brown denies the charges. Ms. Taylor’s claims must be taken seriously. It’s not a matter of guilt or innocence. If by some miracle he’s an unfortunate victim of slander, he can continue his career elsewhere. The Pats are already mocked in the league. They have repeatedly cheated, drafted a murderer, and had their owner involved in a sex-trafficking investigation.
Doing the right thing by releasing AB, without delay, would be a nice change to the narrative. This would spare the team from months of distractions and negative attention. Here’s hoping the “Patriot way” doesn’t include compromising the organization’s moral compass due to the supreme athletic talent of a single player.