Raiders

Antonio Brown's swift release highlights true nature of 'Patriot Way'

Antonio Brown's swift release highlights true nature of 'Patriot Way'

In the end, Antonio Brown couldn't get out of his own way. Couldn't keep his head down and his name out of the news. Couldn't become invisible Monday-Saturday in Foxboro.

Instead, Brown was ever-present even while being kept away from the local media save for a quick, four-question session Thursday. As a result, the Patriots cut the mercurial wide receiver Friday.

Maybe the memo got lost.

When Brown signed on with the Patriots 11 days ago after detonating his relationship with the Raiders mostly via Instagram, most people saw the rich getting richer. They saw Bill Belichick and Tom Brady getting a receiver at the height of his powers who surely would fit in and take to "The Patriot Way" immediately. 

That never happened, and Brown has only himself to blame.

After the Patriots elected to play Brown in their Week 2 thumping of the Dolphins despite the sexual assault lawsuit that was filed the day he signed with New England, most thought Belichick was prepared to ignore the noise, outrage and general s--tstorm Brown creates on a daily basis because, well, he's one of the best at what he does. Holding talent and wins above all else, after all, is part of "The Patriot Way," right? Not quite.

That's how former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk once described it.

But that's not how I ever saw it. And I don't think that's how most who spend their time at 1 Patriot Place would characterize it.

Having helped cover the Patriots during my time in Boston, it just never seemed like the case. Talent and production isn't an automatic recipe for being a Patriot. You can be all-world at your position and bring it on Sundays. Brown certainly is and does. You can give the appearance that you walk the company line. He did that Thursday with his answers during his brief media session. 

That's not enough.

If you were watching Bill Belichick's press conference Friday morning as I was, you saw Brown's Patriots tenure circling the drain. I'm sure most reporters in that room felt it, too. There's a feeling in the air in Foxboro when non-football related issues own the day. An uneasy feeling permeates the walls. Things feel as if they are out of equilibrium. But order normally is restored swiftly. 

On Wednesday night, Brown sent menacing and threatening text messages to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, and she gave the texts to Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko and the NFL.

When Belichick walked to the podium Friday, he already was annoyed at the barrage of questions he was about to face. None, at least in his mind, about football. Zero X's and O's inquiries. The focus was all on a player who had been in the building less than 14 days and kept taking the attention away from the team's preparation. Belichick briefly answered a few questions, then when it became clear there would be no non-Brown questions, he ended the session and stormed out.

Hours later Brown was cut and order was restored, days before the Patriots were due to pay him $5 million of his $9 million signing bonus.

Brown wasn't cut because of the ongoing NFL investigation surrounding the alleged sexual assault in 2018 or the sexual misconduct in 2017. In Patriot Land, what matters is what you do while you are a Patriot. 

Belichick wipes the slate clean once you enter the building, but the rope never is long, especially not as long as the one Jon Gruden and the Raiders were willing to give Brown. That's why he played against the Dolphins, despite the lawsuit. He wasn't a Patriot when it happened, so it doesn't concern them.

But when Brown sent menacing text messages to a woman who hadn't filed any charges or lawsuits against him, a woman who only told her story to Sports Illustrated while asking to remain anonymous, he went after her and her children as a member and representative of the Patriots.

That's a no-no.

Brown rocked the boat, forcing Belichick and his teammates to answer countless questions about his pending legal issues, mental state and work ethic. Quarterback Tom Brady was peppered with inquiries about Brown's status and actions. Brady, like everyone else in the building, just wanted to pivot back to the Jets. The focus went from football to AB and his off-field issues.

No talent is worth that headache to Belichick. He'd rather go to battle with 53 players with half Brown's talent and none of the nonsense then spend one more second fielding questions about something that doesn't involve 22 men colliding with each other for sport. 

Belichick and the Patriots can win without Brown. The four-time All-Pro receiver never was integral to their success. He was ancillary. A fun experiment. So he's gone, without so much as a second thought or hint of regret. Things at 1 Patriot Place are perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

The Patriots' are the gold standard in the NFL. The franchise every team is trying to emulate.

Most teams try to do so by accumulating talent, giving problem players carte blanche to run rampant with the promise of wins coming Sunday. Most teams are forced to do so.

The Raiders went easy on Brown, allowing him to do things his way. His talent too great to cast aside because of a headache that surely scoring touchdowns would cure. It's important to note that Brown was facing no legal issues for sexual assault while a member of the Raiders, perhaps the rope would have been shorter if his actions were more serious. We'll never know.

Still, Brown was a constant distraction to everyone from general manager Mike Mayock to the equipment manager. Brown hijacked the Raiders' preseason with his antics. They let him. They had to. Gruden and Mayock played everything perfectly, as far as teams that haven't won six Super Bowls in two decades go. The rope was long for Brown. He used all and then kept right on going.

The Patriots don't play that game. Ever.

Linebacker Dont'a Hightower once explained "The Patriot Way" as such to the Houston Chronicle.

"It is just more about the way you carry yourself, about the way you manage expectations, and know what expectations are," Hightower said. "Guys come in not knowing what it is and guys go out not being able to explain what the Patriot way is, but when you are there, you know what it is- guys buy-in."

Brown learned that when he was ejected from Belichick's life Friday. His actions were a clear breach of both "The Patriots Way" and the conduct clause in his contract. The expectation was clear and Brown missed the bar like a high-jumper tripping before take-off.

[RELATED: AB's pattern of disturbing behavior shows Raiders made right call]

From the minute those text messages came to light, Brown's time in Foxboro already had expired.

Belichick and the Patriots had to get back to their own boomin' business. The one everyone else is trying to get into.

That of winning.

Antonio Brown apologizes to Patriots, not Raiders, for bad media, drama

Antonio Brown apologizes to Patriots, not Raiders, for bad media, drama

Hey Antonio Brown ... did you forget someone?

The seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver took to Twitter on Tuesday (again) and apologized to the New England Patriots and team owner Robert Kraft:

It appears he left someone out of the tweet, though. Where's Brown's apology to the Raiders?

The laundry list of items AB brought to the Silver and Black range from a case of extreme frostbitten feet to #HelmetGate to an altercation with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock.

[RELATED: Brown's agent confident in AB return]

Just to name a few ... 

Brown was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Raiders in March for two 2019 NFL Draft picks, and despite the excitement at the beginning, he never played a game for Oakland after requesting his release and having his wish granted right before the season opener. 

Apparently he only remembers the headaches he caused in New England, not in Oakland.

Raiders not looking ahead despite monumental Chiefs game on horizon

Raiders not looking ahead despite monumental Chiefs game on horizon

The AFC West showdown of the season is coming up fast.

The Raiders travel to Kansas City for a Dec. 1 battle for pole position in the division race, as important a division game as the Silver and Black have played since 2016.

The NFL recognized that and dropped this game from a cluttered morning window to the late afternoon. The league knows that it should be a featured game.

The longtime rivals could be tied atop the division at kickoff, setting high stakes for that one. The Chiefs will enter that game at 7-4 fresh off a bye following Monday night’s victory over the L.A. Chargers.

The Raiders have to work for that record. A victory Sunday over the host New York Jets is required. The Raiders are road favorites for the first time this season but understand their next contest will be a tough one.

The Raiders can’t and won’t overlook anyone, especially after their previous game, against the winless Bengals, was too close for comfort.

“We are going to fight, scratch to win every single game that we can possibly win,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “I know the Bengals were 0-9 and it’s an easy story to write, but you don’t look ahead in this league. You just don’t do it. There’s a lot of upsets every week.”

Take another look at Gruden’s first sentence. That’s an accurate description of the team’s approach to this season. The battle and fight like crazy, which is why their 6-1 in games decided by one score or less. They also know they don’t have enough talent or clout to win while on cruise control. A maximum effort is required against most everybody. That includes a three-win team with two victories in a row.

“I can't speak for the team, but I know personally, I don't look ahead,” running back Josh Jacobs said. “Even coming into this week, I didn't even know Cincinnati's record. I didn't know any of the stats. I just looked at film and take it day-by-day and opponent-by-opponent."

The Chiefs can look forward to the Raiders during a bye. Andy Reid will certainly be in the lab concocting new and innovative ways to best old friend in Gruden, who could bring the Raiders to Kansas City on a four-game winning streak with control of the AFC West on the line.

A loss in the Meadowlands would ruin that scenario, but it doesn’t take the Raiders out of contention for the division or a wild card spot. The Silver and Black are in the thick of this thing, currently the AFC’s No. 7 seed -- that could change after a Thursday night clash between the Texans and Colts, both 6-4, and a half-game back in the division.

Gruden has done a good job preventing his team from dreaming too far ahead. They were focused on the Bengals and expect to get the best of Sam Darnold and a stout Jets defensive front in Week 12.

[RELATED: Raiders draft class making impact on season]

The Silver and Black have impressed thus far this season despite a tough schedule but know they haven’t earned anything yet.

“It just says that we’re getting better. We’re able to find ways to win,” Gruden said. “There’s an old saying around here, ‘Just win baby.’ We’ve fought our hearts out to put ourselves in a 6-4 position. That doesn’t mean anything. We’ve got a lot of respect for the Jets and a lot of work to do.”