Antonio Brown has seen a weird few years in the NFL going from one of the best receivers to nearly out of the league to a Super Bowl champion under the tutelage of Tom Brady.
Brown had one of the craziest falls from grace. He was well on a path to greatness with the Pittsburgh Steelers, cementing himself as probably the best receiver in the league during his prime.
However, after some miscommunication, some tantrums, and a lot of drama, it looked like Brown was definitely out of the league. Not even the Patriots held on to him for more than one season. However, Brown finally got his chance to prove himself after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him after Tom Brady pushed the front office to take the risk.
Now, he’s a Super Bowl champion with far more to come.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 22, 2020
What Happened To Antonio Brown?
Prior to his tumultuous last season with the Steelers, Brown was one of the best receivers in the game. Since entering the league in 2010, Brown had been nothing short of prolific. He took just 129 games to reach 11,000 receiving yards, the 2nd fewest in NFL history. On top of that, since 2011 he ranks first in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. In short, he was unstoppable.
Between 2013 and 2017, “The Killer B’s” (Brown, Bell, and Ben) formed one of the most vaunted offenses in the league. Brown’s career was going as well as any receiver could have hoped for. He was well on his way to earning Hall of Fame honors. He had already become a seven-time Pro Bowler and four time first-team All-Pro.
However, after a spat with Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger, Brown was traded to the Raiders where he lasted all of one offseason complaining about his helmet, getting frostbite and calling out ownership and coaching.
He was released before the Patriots signed him, on Brady’s urging. After one great game, Brown was released after being accused of sexual assault and rape. The league suspended Brown for his actions, but as soon as he was reinstated Brady was after him once more.
Bruce Arians initially wanted nothing to do with Brown as rumors were surfacing that Tampa Bay would look to sign him, but he clearly was influenced by Brady as he went back on his initial comments taking a chance on the embattled receiver.
Brown had a great year for the Bucs, hauling in 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns, stats that would almost average to a 1,000 yard season despite the team fielding Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Brady certainly helped a lot with Brown’s recovery and settling him down.
Tom Brady Drastically Helped Brown Change His Career Around
Brown’s strong relationship with Brady started back in New England. At the time, Brady even offered to have Brown move in with him. The legendary Patriots quarterback was thrilled to have a weapon of Brown’s caliber on a relatively weak offense, but after just one game, the Pats had seen enough.
Brady never gave up on his dream though. He once more offered to have Brown live with him and pushed his case hard towards head coach Bruce Arians.
“Brady lobbied me back in, gosh, June, July, August,” Arians had to say. Moreover, the Buccaneers signed Brown to a “prove-it” one year contract, laden with incentives. These included postseason victories, targets, catches, among other things.
Brady knew about this, and he made sure that Brown received every penny of his contract. In the final regular season game, Brown need 11 catches to reach his target of 45 to cash in on an extra $250,000.
With just two minutes left in the game, instead of running the ball out, Brady flipped Brown a couple of easy passes to ensure Brown met his incentive.
That pop pass from Brady to Antonio Brown was his 45th catch of the season — triggers a $250,000 incentive for him. https://t.co/kVbGc6BT0a
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) January 3, 2021
Brown had a lot to say about the seven-time Super Bowl champ.
“A lot of his help has guided me in the game, helped me get to this point where I’m at right now. Helped me grow as a person — physically, mentally, emotionally and he kind of put some things in perspective”
Brady also acknowledged this close bond he shared with Brown:
“Antonio and I connected right away… I think he made incredible strides over the last 12 months to get [from] where he was at to where he is at now.”
Antonio Brown Could Have His Best Year Since Pittsburgh
Now that Brown has found his footing and also has had a full offseason to train and prepare with the team, big things could be in store. His chemistry with Brady and the rest of the team is only growing, and that could translate into perhaps his most productive year since 2018.
Antonio Brown had over a 20% target share once he started playing for the Bucs. He’s been the best receiver in the NFL for the past decade. Even in a crowded offense, he could wind up being the best value in fantasy this season. pic.twitter.com/J5APNJwavc
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 31, 2021