It’s Super Bowl weekend. The culmination of everything good and positive and right about the NFL’s 100th season. So, of course, here comes the guy who indelibly stained the celebration with one last distraction before the 49ers and Chiefs get things started tomorrow night.
In a sit-down interview with ESPN, Antonio Brown attempts to launch his latest redemption tour. And, of course, his generalized apology is undermined by specific statements that make it clear that he’s just saying what he thinks he has to say to get back into the NFL — and that when it doesn’t happen quickly enough for his liking, he’ll do something for which another attempted redemption tour will become necessary.
“I think I owe the whole NFL an apology and my past behavior,” Brown told Josina Anderson of ESPN. “I think I could have done a lot of things better.”
OK. Fine. Good. But there’s more. And it’s the more that undermines the apology.
For example, Brown had a snarky reaction to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent comment that the NFL is more concerned about Brown’s well-being than his football career.
“I was pleased to hear that after 140 days that there was some positivity about me because as of late I’ve just been the cancer of the NFL,” Brown said. “The problem child, the guy who gets in trouble, the kind of guy who has the bad narrative about him.”
There’s truth in the snark. But he’s the reason he’s been the “cancer of the NFL.” From burning his own feet in a cryotherapy machine to an extended fight with the league over the helmet he’d wear to his decision to tweet his way out of Oakland to the lawsuit filed against him for sexual assault and rape to the alleged harassment via text message of a different woman who had made allegations about Brown to SI.com to being dumped by the Patriots to periodic incidents and outbursts directed at anyone and everyone he believes has wronged him in some way to his conduct at a deposition involving damage to a Miami apartment that resulted in a judge forcing Brown to do it over again (in the presence of the judge) to videos of him yelling and screaming at police and the mother of his children to being fired by his own agent due to the chronic misbehavior to his felony arrest for burglary and battery involving the driver of a moving truck, Brown has been the cancer of the NFL — even though the cancer hasn’t been in the NFL since September.
Brown also is skeptical that the league cares about his well-being, telling Anderson, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
And as to the most important question that Brown currently can address, the question of whether he needs help for a health condition that may be influencing his inability to control his impulses and emotions, Brown said, “We all need mental help.”
Anderson took it a step farther, asking Brown whether he may have CTE, a cognitive disease that can develop based on the blows to the head that football entails, tracing to the postseason blow to the head he absorbed from then-Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict more than four years ago.
“Nah, if I had CTE I wouldn’t be able to have this beautiful gym, I wouldn’t be able to be creative,” Brown said, reflecting a complete misunderstanding of what CTE is and isn’t. “I wouldn’t be able to communicate. He didn’t hit me that hard. You know, I got up and walked off the field. We won the game. I was all right. You play the game long enough, everyone get hit hard.”
While Brown may not believe he’s a victim of CTE, he continues to believe he’s a victim when it comes to the allegations made against him by multiple women.
“I feel like I never really got in a conflict with no woman,” Brown said. “I just feel like I’m a target so, anybody can come against me and say anything [that] I have to face. There’s no support, there’s no egos, there’s no rules in it, anyone can come after me for anything. No proof or whatever. ‘He said, she’s saying.’
“The media will run with it, so even if I’m not guilty, I’m already guilty because they already wrote it, put it on TV and put that in people minds. So for me to have to sit here and hear those the allegations of me is just unfair to me every time.”
Every time Brown addresses these topics, the sense becomes inescapable that he believes he’s being treated improperly and unfairly. Until he gets the assistance he needs to understand the connection between his feelings, the way he reacts to his feelings, the things that happen when he reacts to his feelings, and the consequences that civilized society will impose upon him for those reactions to his feelings, his periodic attempted redemption tours will launch.
And then go nowhere.