The recent on-field events surrounding Tampa Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown have brought into question his emotional stability. His meltdown on the sideline during the Week 17 game at the MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets was jaw-dropping. When directed by his coach to take the field, he negated to do so. After a brief conversation with quarterback Tom Brady, he decided to strip down to the waist and leave the field. As he left, he paraded down the sideline towards the end zone waving to the crowd and giving the peace sign. The demonstration was not received well by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ front office and the coaching staff. During the post-game press briefing the Buc’s head coach, Bruce Arians, was asked to offer an update on Brown’s status with the team. He abruptly stated that he was no longer a member of the Buccaneers. The following day the team’s response took on a more empathetic tone when the comments began to center on Antonio’s mental health.
The issue with Antonio can be traced back to his tenure with the Pittsburg Steelers. After an argument with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he went AWOL from team practices and was benched. Dissatisfied at the outcome, he requested to be traded and was eventually signed by the Oakland Raiders. In Oakland, his troubles continued when he opted to try cryotherapy but refused to follow the protocols for the treatment. That lack of direction resulted in damage to the soles of his feet. Sidelined for that issue, he then got into a league dispute over the safety helmet mandate. The final straw with the Raiders was when Antonio threatened the team’s General Manager with physical violence after being fined for missing required meetings and practices and he was released. Then he was signed by the New England Patriots and allegations surfaced regarding sexual misconduct when he sent threatening text messages to his accuser. This resulted in him being released by New England. Antonio’s on the playing field is a force of nature and with that in mind, Tampa Bay believed he could become part of their team and signed him disregarding his past antics. Bruce Arians, Antonio’s former coach in Pittsburg, anticipated a great outcome and thought that he could do well with his new team. Unfortunately, the tide turned in the other direction because of his actions on the field.
My take on Antonio Brown’s situation is that he could be experiencing instances of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy also known as CTE. CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes who have sustained repetitive blows to the head. There are four stages of the disease and Stage II describes mood swings and instances of explosivity. While the research has predominantly been postpartum, there is now movement in pre-diagnosing individuals with symptoms associated with CTE. Those individuals who may have influence over Antonio would do well to direct him to the Center for CTE in Boston where he could get the help he desperately needs.