The New England Patriots have welcomed and embraced bad boys and outlaws and malcontents and even miscreants over the years with unparalleled success, because the locker-room culture there demands that everyone, no matter where he has been or what he has done or who he thinks he is, toe the line and march in lockstep with everyone else for the express purpose of winning a Super Bowl championship.
Case in point: wide receiver Randy Moss, who was jailed for bumping and nudging a female traffic-control officer half a block with his Lexus sedan until she fell over in downtown Minneapolis; who “mooned” Packers fans; who once walked off FedEx Field with two seconds left in the game.
But Patriots head coach Bill Belichick recognized a Hall of Fame talent and understood how catching passes from Tom Brady could be an aphrodisiac for any receiver, Boy Scout or not, and even though he didn’t get himself a ring, thanks to Eli Manning and the Super Bowl XLII Giants ruining a Perfect Patriots season, Moss did catch 50 TD passes in his 52 games as a Patriot.
But I ask this now of Belichick and Brady: After the kind of selfish, outrageous, destructive behavior we have witnessed from Antonio Brown, do you really want this man on your team?
At best, Brown has revealed himself to be a troubled, Machiavellian diva and disruptive headache on and off social media who plays only for the name on the back of his jersey and no one else.
Ask the Steelers and the Raiders.
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At worst . . . he is so much worse than that.
The NFL and the Patriots are investigating rape accusations from his former trainer, allegations that Brown denies. But there was Belichick on Wednesday, forced to answer question after question about what his plans might be for Brown when he would much prefer lying about how dangerous his team’s next opponent, the Miami Dolphins, are despite their 59-10 opening- day loss to the Ravens.
After reading the vulgar, misogynistic texts Brown allegedly sent to his accuser, what are the odds that Gisele Bündchen demanded that Brady retract his offer to let Brown stay in their home until he gets himself settled?
As much as Belichick lives for gaining any and every conceivable edge, I find it difficult to believe that there is any way he would have pursued Brown under these circumstances.
Innocent until proven guilty is one thing. Ignoring the noise, the signature credo of the Belichick operation, is another.
There may very well be a part of Belichick that does not frown upon Brown forcing his way out of Pittsburgh and then Oakland and landing on his feet, because he could, because of his otherworldly talent, or have you forgotten how Belichick resigned from the Jets so he could run into the arms of Patriots owner Robert Kraft?
Look, we know — or think we know — that Brown won’t be pulling any Facebook Live stunts like he did during the playoffs with the Steelers any time soon with the Patriots, or posting his fines online or replaying any phone conversation with Belichick. Because with Belichick, a zero-tolerance policy is etched into the Patriots Constitution.
Hey, Bill, hey, Tom, hey Patriots:
Are you really sure that you can’t win your seventh Super Bowl without Antonio Brown?
Are you really sure Antonio Brown is worth the trouble?