After their embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Saints, you might believe Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need bad boy wide receiver Antonio Brown more than ever.
I’m going to argue the opposite.
Sunday night’s 38-3 loss, in Brown’s Tampa debut, proves that Tampa coach Bruce Arians’ initial diagnosis of Antonio Brown was correct.
“It’s not gonna happen,” Arians said in March. “It’s not the right fit here.”
So what happened? Why did the Buccaneers reach late October and conclude they couldn’t attain their goals without Antonio Brown?
Fear that Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks would sign Brown and become an NFC offensive juggernaut. Fear that receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin won’t physically hold up over the last half of the season. Fear that life without Brown would be worse than life with Brown.
Without getting into the details of Brown’s legal entanglements and assault allegations, it is fair to classify Antonio Brown as a negative energy force. He’s a 32-year-old man who requires the attention and monitoring of a 2-year-old child.
Arians knew this. His Pittsburgh Steelers roots run way too deep to be ignorant of the effort required to keep Brown happy and productive. Brady volunteered to once again serve as Brown’s babysitter. It’s the same chore he took on during Brown’s brief stint in New England last season.
There’s a significant difference between New England and Tampa and Pittsburgh and Tampa. The Patriots and the Steelers have long-established cultures. Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin are two of the three longest-tenured coaches in the NFL. Dropping Brown into Belichick’s two-decades-old culture is quite different from adding him to Arians’ roster in year two.
Since Belichick took over in New England, the Bucs have had seven head coaches. Tampa has had six head coaches since Tomlin arrived in Pittsburgh.
“It’s not the right fit here.”
Brady is trying to do too much. He’s 43 years old. He’s married to a multi-millionaire supermodel, Gisele Bundchen. He has a baby mama, Bridget Moynahan, who is an actress and model. He just relocated his family to Florida.
Babysitting a needy, irresponsible 32-year-old negative energy force who can get open down the seam?
I was that stupid at age 43. When I first moved to Los Angeles in 2010, I volunteered to babysit a 30-year-old stripper I met at the Spearmint Rhino in Las Vegas. I foolishly thought her ability to get open down the seam compensated for her “occasional” use of marijuana, tequila and coke. It didn’t. While she was away visiting her family, my friend and I packed all of her belongings into her car and parked it down the street from my building.
There’s something about being 43 with a pocketful of cash that makes men believe they can handle all burdens. I’m glad I survived.
My point is Brady is overwhelmed. He’s brought the wrong energy into his household. You’ll never convince me that Mike Evans and Chris Godwin need AB to win in Tampa. You’ll never convince me that Giselle believes her husband needs to waste his limited time and energy on Antonio Brown.
Brown is a distraction. It’s not a coincidence that Brady tossed three interceptions and played possibly his worst game ever during Brown’s Tampa debut. Brady has too much going on.
“It’s not the right fit here.”
The right fit for Brown is with the Jets and Jaguars, places where winning doesn’t matter right now. Brown could even help the Bears and the Eagles, teams that have a glaring need for a perimeter playmaker.
Brown is a toxic luxury item in Tampa.
That’s my take on the issue. Judy Battista of NFL.com has written a fine column arguing the other side of Antonio Brown. I sincerely recommend you read it.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Brady is more skilled at babysitting 32-year-old negative energy forces with stripper tendencies than I was at 43.
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