Raider Nation by now is keenly aware that in recent seasons, it’s been a rarity to have a free agent (or a player seeking a trade) to actively want to come to Oakland. However, that’s exactly what we saw last week from new Raiders WR Antonio Brown, who threw out teaser after teaser about wanting to come to the Raiders through social media. Whether working out in black and silver clothes or posting pictures of himself wearing a Raider uniform to Instagram, it’s clear that Brown has been all-in to join the Raiders for some time.
A huge part of Brown’s newfound pleasant disposition is the fact that he has a new quarterback in Derek Carr whom he gushed about when they played together at the Pro Bowl a few years ago. Brown was desperate to get out of Pittsburgh in large part because he did not get along with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, or more specifically the Steeler organization’s preferential treatment toward Big Ben. Brown said this almost exactly a month ago:
No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
Sure, Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks get certain perks, they’ve earned them. But nobody in life can ever earn so much status that they earn the right to be dismissive, condescending or disrespectful of those around them, the people they care about and who care about them. It’s pretty clear from Ben Roethlisberger’s history of character issues (and by that I mean serious crimes that went unpunished) what kind of guy he is.
It’s also pretty clear that Brown orchestrated his own trade out of town. He went full loony-bin, dyeing his mustache gold and giving an unhinged interview on LeBron’s talk show. He then personally nixed a trade to the Bills. And yet, when Brown got to Oakland, the hair dye was gone and so was the attitude. It’s almost as though the entire thing was an act, designed to get him out of town and into a new contract by any means necessary. At Brown’s press conference, he was respectful and excited, seeming like a man with his head firmly planted on his shoulders. Now, which version of Antonio Brown is the real one?
Unlike a man or woman who get out of a toxic or abusive relationship, football players don’t get to take time off to work on themselves before dating again. They just go to a new team and do their best. Brown is pretty clearly throwing everything he has into his relationship with Carr, and he’s giving maximum effort. Let’s take a look at Brown, in his first day as a Raider, showing up unexpectedly (yet with a camera crew) to Derek Carr’s house.
The word “bro” was tossed around like beer at a Raider tailgate. Clearly, these two men are now bros. Brown complained that Roethlisberger never hung out with him, they never went to each other’s houses. And yet, Carr and Brown have already done so, without playing a single down together as of yet.
Not too much later, Brown and Carr went to a Napa park, which happens to be right behind Maurice Jones-Drew’s house, to play some catch and practice routes. It’s presumed that Jones-Drew is not the creepo hiding in the bushes to take this footage and sell it to TMZ.
Brown looks in fantastic shape here, and is already on the same page with Carr insofar as out routes and deep crosses. One can already envision the Chiefs DBs getting toasted by this connection.
And then just today, Brown posted an Instagram Story with he and Carr working out together once again. I saw the footage on NFL Network but I can’t find it to post here because I’m not some sucka Instagram member, but I do have a still shot that Brown posted to his own Instagram publicly.
That right there looks like two happy men, who are friends and also bros. Roethlisberger didn’t bother to develop relationships with his receivers or work out with them in his down time. Carr already is. Here’s what Brown had to say about Carr in his introductory press conference:
“It’s just refreshing. I think he’s hungry for success, hungry for turning the organization around, hungry to get on the winning side of things, and I’m just hungry for the same thing. So, I think we stand for the same causes; God fearing men, family first type people, and we just want to be the best at our craft, putting in the work and the meetings on the field. I think he’s like a sponge, just trying to learn everything from these guys to my left (Mayock) and my right (Gruden) to be able to help the team be successful.”
Will this relationship continue to be sunshine and rainbows even when the Raiders lose a few games? Brown is used to being on a perennial playoff contender. That remains to be seen, but I believe Brown gives the Raiders a much better chance to win games than they had with their skeleton crew of receivers last year, so maybe it won’t ever come to that.
And even if they lose, Carr isn’t the type of guy to disrespect anyone, much less his own star receiver. And that might be enough to keep him happy, because from where I sit, with all Brown’s antics, shenanigans and tomfoolery, underneath that visage is a man who just wants to be loved. And now he is.