The Patriots landing Antonio Brown after all the drama Brown created in Pittsburgh and Oakland was shady, no question, and it only adds to outside, jealous hated of the Patriots that continually paints them as an evil operation.
But what Brown actually did – forcibly trying to get himself traded from the Steelers and then released by the Raiders – is not exactly a new concept.
We are currently firmly entrenched in a player empowerment movement in sports – highlighted by all of the superteam conspiring in the NBA these days.
Boston sports fans know, first hand.
We just saw this sort of stuff play out with Kyrie Irving.
Irving and Kevin Durant were teammates on Team USA earlier this decade, and developed a friendship that eventually landed the duo together in Brooklyn.
When Irving saw the writing on the wall in Boston, that he wasn’t a good fit with the Celtics’ young core, he couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Dodge. He totally mailed it in during the second half of the C’s 2018-19 season and in the playoffs, providing some of the worst defensive effort in the history of pro basketball against the Bucks.
Kyrie’s performance in the Bucks series wasn’t as bad as Brown sitting out Pittsburgh’s must-win Week 17 game against the Bengals last winter. But it’s close.
And as for Oakland, at least Brown had the decency to push for his release before the start of the season – instead of sabotaging the thing halfway through.
Sticking with the NBA for a moment, the Celtics also could have traded for Anthony Davis at any point from last January to late June.
But they didn’t.
Because Davis and his agent Rich Paul – who also represents LeBron James and more or less runs the Lakers at this point – said that the Celtics shouldn’t trade for him because he wouldn’t re-sign there. Davis, of course, conveniently wound up with the Lakers.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s vanilla “Get Up!” host, Mike Greenberg, actually had a real opinion on something for once and said that what Brown did was “the most unprofessional act that I can ever remember seeing in professional sports.”
Hmmmm. He must have missed what Davis did in New Orleans just eight months ago.
He also must have been out to lunch back in 2004 when Eli Manning refused to play for the San Diego Chargers, as well as 1983 when John Elway refused to play for the Baltimore Colts.
What really happened with Brown and the Patriots this past weekend was Durant joining the Golden State Warriors, fresh off a 73-win season.
Except multiply the national outrage by 1,000.
The Warriors were mostly loved back then, but the Durant signing made fans of every other team in the NBA turn around, look at each other and say: “Hey … that’s not fair!”
Brown signing with the reigning Super Bowl champion Pats “isn’t fair” for fans of the other 31 teams in the NFL. And then there is also that whole thing about the Patriots being the most despised franchise in professional sports outside of this tiny corner of the Northern part of the United States.
What Brown did to the Steelers and Raiders wasn’t the classiest way to go about his business. But truth be told, it’s nothing new in pro sports.