Voice Up: Antonio Brown’s future in the NFL

Sydney Bigelow and Brendan Kelly

January 2 was a unique Sunday for National Football League (NFL) fans when Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown took off his shirt and ran off the field at MetLife Stadium. Brown’s history of dramatic behavior caused fans to roll their eyes and the Buccaneers to release him from their team. Does Brown deserve to hang up his cleats and end his football career or do his statistics appeal to teams in need for a wide receiver? Time to voice up.


Antonio Brown’s career stats speak louder than his actions


There is no doubt that Brown’s actions have been extreme and unprecedented. His behavior while playing for various NFL teams was often not up to the standard expected of professional athletes, often saying or doing inappropriate or even violent things. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that he would be kicked off the team following his exit from the Jets game, many fans interpreted this as the end of his career. 

Brown entered the 2021-2022 season with numerous records and personal accolades. To start, he reached 837 career receptions in nine years, the second highest in that amount of time. Additionally, he reached 11,000 receiving yards in only 129 games, the second shortest amount of time to reach that statistic. The NFL cited him as “the most productive wide receiver” in the league for the time period. 

Many people believe that it is possible that Brown suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) caused by the numerous collisions he has faced on the field. If left undiagnosed, this brain injury could partially explain Brown’s impulsive and even offensive decisions.

In a personal statement released on January 5, Brown shared his side of the story, revealing that he had been struggling with an ankle injury. Brown shared that he felt that head coach Bruce Arians was neglecting his injury when he asked him to enter the game, and when he refused to, Arians asked him to leave the game, to which he did in a dramatic fashion. 

As stated, Brown’s actions are not excusable, and therefore he should be held accountable. Punishments such as monetary fines or a multiple game suspension are appropriate responses to Brown’s behavior. There are ways that Brown can pay the price for his behavior without ending his career. A team that needs strong receivers could benefit from Brown’s performance on the field, and if they need him enough as a player, they can deal with his actions off the field. 


Antonio Brown should not be allowed to play in the NFL


Brown’s actions on January 2, are inexcusable, and he should not be allowed back on an NFL field. You can argue that because of his skill he should be allowed to play again, but what he did was inexcusable, and considering he has had previous off the field issues, serious mental health issues, and legal issues, he should not be allowed to play in the NFL again. 

The incident that happened in January this season is not the first time something like this has happened with Antonio Brown. He has been a locker room issue dating all the way back to his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It has been a common theme with him that if things are not his way, he is going to make a fight about it, and cause a scene that will have a negative impact on his team. 

Back in December of 2018, when Brown was a star member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was benched for throwing a football at his quarterback Ben Rothelsburger. At the same time he was also mad at his own teammate Juju-Smith Schuster, for being named team most valuable player (MVP). Incidents like these will just ruin a team’s image, and make it look like a team has locker room issues and bad chemistry. Having a good team image is more important than a winning record.

Brown has also been dealing with multiple different legal issues off the field, which is just another reason why he should be kept off any NFL field. In February of 2019, Brown was found guilty of reckless driving, which would lead to the Steelers trading him. About seven months later, Brown was filed for sexual assualt by his former trainer. Ten days later, the New England Patriots would release him after he was filed for a second account of sexual assualt by a different woman. 

It is clear that his behaviors both on and off the field are inexcusable, but it is very likely that they are because of his mental issues, due to playing professional football. If he continues to play football, his health will just keep getting worse and worse, which could lead to serious consequences.