It’s easy to just want to blame this all on Antonio Brown.
After all, the star wide receiver acted out in the middle of the Buccaneers-Jets game on Sunday in Jersey.
After refusing to go back in the game, Brown stripped off his helmet, shoulder pads and uniform and basically quit on the spot.
This is an open-and-shut case, right?
Most of the blame has to go to Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians.
He was the enabler. He was complicit. He set up this mess.
Arians is just as much to blame as Brown. He never held Brown accountable. He kept looking the other way as if the stuff Brown had done in his past wouldn’t happen to him.
When things blew up in his face, as it had in Brown’s previous three stops in NFL America, Arians acted surprised, like he was caught off guard.
There was never a question if Brown would blow up the spot, just when it would happen.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady should shoulder blame, as well. He also didn’t really care about Brown, the person. All Brady cared about was Brown, the talented wide receiver.
Brady was so hell bent on winning another Super Bowl — proving the success in New England was about him and not coach Bill Belichick — that he sold his soul and principles to get Brown, a man accused of sexual assault by one woman and sexual misconduct by another, on his team.
How else can you explain Brady taking Brown into his home despite the erratic behavior that left a trail of alleged victims in Brown’s path?
If Brady really cared about Brown’s behavior, he would have gotten him professional help, not a professional contract to play football.
It’s clear Brown needs some sort of help in his personal life, to improve his well-being.
You don’t need to be a doctor to know that. It’s just the eye test, like spotting a great athlete on the field.
But more than anything, Brown needs to be held accountable for his actions. Yes, tough love.
That’s what Arians failed to deliver when Brown needed it most.
Don’t forget, at first, Arians said Tampa Bay wasn’t interested in Brown after the New England Patriots cut ties with him.
Then, Brady wanted him and boom, he was a Buc. Somehow, Brown survived injury and the season and helped Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl.
When no other team in the league wanted him, the Bucs re-signed him.
Then came the moment of truth. Arians said something very profound when the Bucs went out on a limb when they first signed Brown. “He screws up one time, he’s gone.”
Arians proved himself to be a liar.
Brown screwed up all right, in epic proportion.
He lied about his vaccination status, got a fake vaccination card — a federal crime, if prosecuted.
Worst of all, Brown endangered the health of Arians, a three-time cancer survivor, and 83-year-old offensive consultant Tom Moore.
That was Arians’ cue to stick to his word, hold Brown accountable for such a selfish act.
Instead, Arians was the selfish one, giving Brown a pass because his football team needed a good wide receiver after injuries depleted his supply. And without question, Brown is still that.
A scrub or a lesser talent would have been shown the door ASAP.
Not Brown, because his biggest enabler was the head coach, the shot-caller.
Shamefully, Arians first words at the press conference after the game was that Brown was no longer a Buc.
Isn’t that special?
Only to add this to the media on Monday, “I have no regrets. I just hope the best for him. It was very hard. I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It’s very hard. Because I do care about him.”
Arians never cared about Brown, just what Brown could do for him, enhance his resume with a Super Bowl.
If he really cared, he would have gotten Brown the help before tossing him another jersey and sending him back out onto the football field.
No one should be shocked about what happened here. It happened with the Steelers. The Raiders. The Patriots. The lure of using this man’s talent to help win football games is too great.
It’s harder to be concerned over someone’s well-being.
Shame on Arians. He’s to blame, too.