Before we begin, let's open our briefing material to the first page, where we all acknowledge that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the Super Bowl champions. And in that victory, Antonio Brown caught a touchdown pass. So if you could just initial that on the line next to it so that we can all agree that happened and then move on to the rest of the discussion, that would be great. Thank you.
With that business out of the way, let us also acknowledge that Bruce Arians, who was suddenly such a hardo when it came down to dealing with Brown in 2022, is the same Bruce Arians who enabled, indulged, pampered, and spoiled Brown for the latter part of 2020 and all 365 days of 2021. He might not be the Frankenstein who built the laboratory that produced this monster, but he certainly let him loose to do what he wanted. He coddled this mercurial, narcissistic manchild in order to appease Tom Brady's bizarre, unfounded optimism about the guy. He went against his own wishes, experience and common sense, because his quarterback had some inexplicable belief in a man who has proven time and time again he needs serious mental help, not people pretending he's got it all worked out. Not to mention, millions of dollars and facetime on national TV every week.
Arians worked with Brown for two seasons in Pittsburgh. And made it clear that was enough for one lifetime. You can't blame him. Any player who can't get along with Mike Tomlin - who bizarrely Facebook Lived himself in a winning playoff locker room for 20 minutes while Tomlin was telling everyone to stay off the social media - had better be prime Jerry Rice to be worth the mental toll. Then Brown signed with the Raiders before insanely shooting his way out of town in his first camp.
He went to New England to find redemption. I'm on record as saying it wouldn't happen and that I was not on board with it even after they signed him. They needed him to act like an adult human being from September of 2019 to February of 2020. That's five months. In the most stable environment in the NFL, an organization led by the most respected owner and coach in the game, with strong presences to be found all around the locker room, he lasted 11 days.
I'm not going to go into the events that followed. The charges against him. The lawsuits. The public meltdowns. Let's save those for the "30 for 30" that is no doubt already in production after yesterday. Instead, I'm keeping the focus on how Bruce Arians wanted to give Antonio Brown a good leaving alone. But once Tom Brady overruled him, he had to sacrifice his integrity in order to make it look like he was on board with this.
First by pretending he was good with this all along:
Then by trying to pretend that people fundamentally change who they are in their early 30s:
And while it might have looked good right after the Super Bowl win, there was obviously a VERY big "If" in this headline:
Still, GM Brady forced Arians to accept his pet project back again, instead of quitting while they were ahead:
And again, it was up to Brady's assistant coach Bruce Arians to act like everything was fine when it started going off the rails. Reduced to the role of a political spokesperson, having stand at the podium and put a happy spin on scandals and policy failures:
Then of course, there was the forged vaccination card:
And finally, Arians admitting the obvious when GM Tom added another unhinged offensive skill guy to the already toxic mix:
That ring will last forever. Granted. That is a part of everyone in Tampa' permanent record, including Bruce Arians. But as the New King James version puts it, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
Best of luck to the next coach who inherits Brown. Don't kid yourself it will never happen.