It's possible that no athlete in recent times owes more to one other athlete than Antonio Brown owes to Tom Brady. A man who literally took him in, gave him a place to stay when no one else and no other NFL team would have him. Presumably invited him to the dinner table to break gluten-free bread substitutes with his wife and genetically flawless children, despite Brown's sketchy domestic history and general instability. Then when Brown made it virtually impossible for Brady's team to employ him after just 11 days, by all accounts Brady resented the decision (made over his objections) and got extra busy on his exit strategy out of New England.
Then in 2020, when Brady's new head coach went on the record insisting Brown would never play for him, Brady exercised his GOAT Veto powers to overrule Bruce Arians, forcing him to sit in the corner like a cuck while Brady turned Brown back into a superstar. And eventually, a Super Bowl champion.
And we all know how that redemption story came to an end. On January 2nd of this year, the magical carriage Brown had been riding turned back into a pumpkin. At the stroke of Shirtless O'Clock:
Much to his own personal, bitter disappointment:
And today we learn that Brown's sense of gratitude toward the legend who twice tried to resurrect his career lasts about as long as his employer's patience. Which is not long, in case I'm not being clear. Because no sooner was in announced that The Man to Whom Antonio Brown Owes So Much is taking some time off for undisclosed reasons:
… did AB weigh in. And to the shock of no one, made it all about him, raging narcissistic-style:
As I've said the other two times this bizarre friendship went south, when you lay down with dogs, you're gonna get fleas. This is how much goodwill Brady engendered for taking this unhinged crackpot under his roof. Twice. For looking for him early and often in Super Bowl LV. For finding him in the end zone just before the half while all of America wretched into our queso dip bowls. The very first time you ask for some time to straighten out whatever in your life has gotten twisted up, this self-possessed manchild you inexplicably befriended and supported turns and bites you in one of your perfectly spherical ass cheeks.
The thing is, somewhere lost in Brown's solipsism, self-pity and undiagnosed Center of the Universe Syndrome, he had a bit of a point.
I want to be clear, this only applies if the reports that Brady isn't dealing with a medical issue or some serious family situation. If his sabbatical really is about some serious life matter, disregard all of this. But, if like we keep being told he just needs a break in the middle of camp, you can sympathize with other players asking, "Wait. What about me?" Antonio Brown might be the worst possible messenger of that thought, but that doesn't make the point less valid. When you're constantly preaching T-E-A-M and everyone being in this together, but then treat some guys more equally than others, you're asking for exactly this kind of sentiment.
Which is by no means me taking Brown's side in any of this. I'll die on no hill for that kook, no matter how big or small. The major takeaway is that anyone who owes as much to Brady as Brown does ought to do the decent thing and keep his mouth shut at time like this, just out of a sense of gratitude. But this is the price you pay when you try to be loyal to someone who shows no loyalty. Brady should've known better.