As the NFL world parses whether Antonio Brown is some sort of diabolical genius or simply a pariah whose talent supersedes his character flaws — or both — there’s no debating that Brown landing in New England is good for both him and the Patriots.
Some believe that Brown being released by the Oakland Raiders and signed by the New England Patriots was simply a matter of circumstance preceded by Brown’s offseason antics that included arriving to training camp with frostbitten feet, threatening to retire over a helmet dispute and reportedly calling Raiders general manager Mike Mayock a “cracker.”
Was it all a conspiracy?
Others believe that landing with the Patriots was Brown’s plan all along.
The Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly refused to discuss trading Brown to the rival Patriots, and this whole saga was his intricate path to land where he wanted — all while New England lands one of the league’s top talents without parting with any assets.
Count Jerry Rice in the latter camp.
Jerry Rice: ‘We got played’
The San Francisco 49ers icon widely considered the game’s greatest-ever receiver spoke with the Bay Area’s 95.7 The Game Monday morning.
His take? “We all got played.”
In conclusion, we all got played. pic.twitter.com/tHVGiZGWQQ— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) September 9, 2019
“He contacted me,” Rice said. “He told me he wanted to play ball here in the Bay Area. I bought into it because I can only take a man at his word, but I think this was already planned.”
Brown had sought mentoring from Rice
Before the Steelers traded Brown, but after it was clear that the two sides were splitting up, Rice offered to mentor Brown and said he spoke with him about coming to the Bay Area, specifically with the 49ers.
“He wants to come here really bad,” Rice told 95.7 in January. “ … He’s talking about running the hill with me — doing all that and just working out and just picking my brain.”
Meanwhile, Brown did little to dispel Rice’s message with an Instagram post that appeared to display his affection and respect for Rice.
Rice: Brown put on a Denzel performance
But now Rice feels like he got duped, along with everyone else.
"I think when he asked to be released from the Steelers, he wanted to go to the Patriots," Rice told 95.7, per NBC Sports Bay Area. "He wanted them to trade him to the Patriots. And there was no way that the Steelers would trade him to a rival. So he had to go a different route. And he decided to come through the Bay Area. And I feel sorry for the fans over in Oakland.
"He was a Denzel Washington and he won the Oscar. He won an Oscar, guys. I'm gonna be honest with you.”
Whatever the truth is, there’s no denying that Brown and the Patriots won out in the saga. And the rest of the NFL lost.
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