Ostensibly, Antonio Brown enjoys the trappings of fame. Specifically, the four-year, $68 million contract which made him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL has to be a nice consolation.
That contract came from the fact he’s one of the best players in the game, but he’s also one of the most entertaining, with an on-field style and social media presence that doesn’t exactly suggest a recluse.
But now he feels trapped.
“I can’t go nowhere and work out by myself, fans come meet me at the field — I can’t do nothing normal,” Brown said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “You guys write about me every day. My mom and my kids see it. So we have to deal with these type of things. I started to think to myself, am I really free? I can’t really express myself in this game. I can’t really tell you how I feel.
“You guys make the pressure to put pressure on me all the time. Am I really free? I got to asking myself that in regards to taking time away from my kids. . . . I had to get away to free my mind.”
Specifically, he seemed to take objection with people quoting him on something he said. When he was asked earlier this offseason about running back Le'Veon Bell‘s contract-related absence and any advice he’d offer from his own experience, Brown responded by saying: “You can’t make anything better without showing up, . . . Show up and get better and show guys you’re serious.”
But he said Tuesday he thought those quotes were misrepresented.
“You guys paint me a picture to talk about Le’Veon,” Brown said. “I’m not involved in Le’Veon’s business or his contract. You guys write about it and say, ‘Oh, AB says show up.’ I just said the first rule of getting better is showing up. I didn’t say show up. He’s got his own business.
“But that’s what I go back to referring — you guys put the pressure on me all the time in regards to life and regards to everything and we’re just supposed to take it. That ain’t freedom.”
Brown also took offense with the way the media put “pressure” on him by subjecting him to constant attention (I guess by acting as the conduit to the fans whose adoration makes his direct deposit as large as it is).
“That’s the pressure of being a professional athlete,” he said. “Everyday scrutiny, everyday pressure. It’s hard to be free.”
The struggle is real.