Yes, another post or comment about Antonio Brown and the saga that has just become stranger, stranger, and stranger. Ever since the last week of the 2018 season when Brown was suspended from his former team the Steelers, it has been a whirlwind of silliness honestly. People blamed the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger for Brown’s actions. He then gets traded to Oakland for a 3rd and 5th round pick. Things were semi-subdued to start as there wasn’t much drama. But when the football helmet issue came to play, that’s when everything began.
Needless to say, Antonio Brown is probably done as a Raider before Week 1 ever gets here.
Or is he?
The one guy that has been front & center of the whole thing aside from Antonio Brown has been Jon Gruden. When word passed on Thursday that Brown was going to be suspended by GM Mike Mayock after “conduct detrimental to the team” (let’s just say that to avoid any major details), Gruden did not come out and really support the idea that Brown was going to be suspended.
For me, at that minute, I figured Brown would not be suspended or at least get it overturned.
Friday arrives and the “breaking” came up on my phone: “Jon Gruden says Antonio Brown will play Week 1.”
Brown apologized to his team “with tears in his eyes” and then apologized in front of cameras. Okay, fine. The team captains said they “would back whatever Gruden wants to do with Brown.”
Then the video of Brown talking to Gruden on the phone on what felt was like his own Nike ad. Gruden found it amusing and loved it. Okay…..(personal note: if I was being secretly recorded on a phone about a matter like this, it’s probably not something I’d find amusing.)
Wake up this morning and now Brown wants his release and that is “no way he will play for the Raiders” after Oakland voided his guarantees. Now the rumor is already going around that Gruden still expects Brown to play and still planning it like Brown will play.
Now, I want to hit on a few things here, notably about the team captains. Nobody has really come out in public and defended the embattled wide receiver and if the message was “whatever you think is best, coach” towards Gruden, that to me is a tell-tale message that the players don’t want Brown to be back there. But Gruden is already insistent of keeping Brown in Oakland, no matter what the issues are with the Raiders.
And that’s the problem.
Brown apologists and Gruden apologists alike will say that Gruden is giving Brown a second chance. Fine. But he’s blown that already when he bucked up to the boss. He blew that when he did a holdout for his helmet. So now we are on the 4th or 5th chance at it. Another thing has been somebody erroneously said how Gruden won a Super Bowl with another diva prima donna receiver in Keyshawn Johnson and having Warren Sapp. To those arguments, Gruden and Johnson hated each other and by the second season Gruden was with the Bucs he suspended Johnson for the second half of the season. And Sapp was not an issue. PS-Gruden won a Super Bowl with Dungy guys on defense. Just saying. After that, he was just an “average” head coach with the Bucs as the Dungy guys started to leave or retire.
Secondly Gruden has already undermined his GM Mike Mayock for all of this. From the moment when Mayock told Brown you’re “all in or all out” to even now, Gruden has been what from the outside has been the opposite of Mayock. It looks bad from that perspective that the head coach (who has an insane deal to stay) and the new GM there are not on the same page. That is a key issue.
We have already seen Gruden have his issues with the Raiders since he came back, notably with his prior GM Reggie McKenzie. The trades of Khalil Mack (which is the most dumbfounding of all of the moves until Brown arrived) and Amari Cooper are just unexplainable. If anything they came to work and did their jobs. But if Gruden has total control of the team over the GM, then why does Oakland have a GM at all when he keeps undermining the decisions Mayock makes?
Again, we know Antonio Brown has baggage. We saw that in full force last year in Pittsburgh. But what Jon Gruden is doing is enabling his behavior time after time to the point that it may just plague the team in what looks to be the Raiders final season in Oakland. It doesn’t set a good precedent for the other players and it is very harming if you are a teammate that is watching this on the side going “how many chances will Brown get from this guy?” or “if it was me, I’m out of a job!” or “well, Khalil Mack was pretty much kicked out of here because he wanted a new contract though he’s a stand-up guy and wants to play here.” Just because somebody may be very talented and have a strong practice regiment does not necessarily mean it off-sets all the issues. Gruden fails to see it right now that it is killing his team.
Maybe the guy that needs to miss the first week of the regular season and the entire season is Jon Gruden. All he’s doing is taking the Raiders into a black hole of futility. And trying to fight to keep Antonio Brown on the team is just another example. And the question is, what is the next example for Gruden and the Raiders? Or better yet how many examples will it take before the Raiders figure out Gruden is not any answer at all? Maybe Gruden is the one that has the issues destroying the team, not Brown.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat