Antonio Brown joining the Patriots brings a (15) million-dollar question: Can the volatile wide receiver shape up in New England?
After all, Brown has bristled at perceived slights that led to blowups in both Pittsburgh and Oakland. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick won't play favorites, though, and the seven-time Pro Bowler's off-field antics won't be tolerated.
There's a scenario in which Brown clashes with the so-called "Patriot Way" and divides New England's locker room from within. But former Patriots wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who played with another Raiders castoff in Randy Moss, thinks this odd marriage actually could work -- thanks in part to Brown's connection with quarterback Tom Brady.
"I really think he’ll be okay,” Stallworth told NBC Sports' Peter King on Sunday. “You’ve got to remember too that there’s something about playing with Brady. They’ll find things in common with each other. They’ve already got a connection, right? Both sixth-round picks with chips on their shoulders?"
Brady and Brown have admired each other from afar over the years, and Stallworth is right: Brady was the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, while Brown went 195th in the 2010 draft.
Stallworth also is betting that Brown, like others who came to New England before him, will cherish the opportunity to win on a consistent basis.
"I know people are talking about the money he lost,” Stallworth said. "Money’s great. But when you can be a Super Bowl contender, and when you can play for maybe the greatest coach ever in team sports, and you can play with the greatest quarterback maybe ever, I’ll just tell you, the way players think, that is something money can’t buy. That appeals to players."
Brown didn't show he was about winning last season when he went AWOL from the Steelers ahead of a Week 17 game they needed to win to reach the playoffs. And through nine NFL seasons, he's yet to put the team in front of himself.
Stallworth believes Belichick and Brady have the clout to change that, much in the way they got Stallworth, Moss and an uber-talented 2007 squad to buy in en route to an undefeated season.
If he's right, the Patriots will have a similar embarrassment of offensive riches this season.
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