FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots are pretty amazing at what they do. No, we’re not talking about winning games and championships. We mean making even the most controversial figures seem boring in media availability.
Antonio Brown spoke Thursday for the first time since joining the Patriots early last week. But he didn’t really say anything. The Patriots got to him. The team clearly media trained the wide receiver before Thursday afternoon, and he followed their direction. Let’s break down what Brown was asked and what was said.
First, however, we’ll give an inside peek to how Brown was made available. Josh Gordon was just finishing up his final answer to a scrum of reporters when Brown appeared at his locker ready to speak. Reporters and photographers scrambled over from Gordon to Brown, and positioning matters when it comes to getting questions in to be answered. A Patriots media relations employee informed reporters Brown would be answering three questions.
Heading into the locker room, some of the daily reporters had set up a plan to ask Brown about his civil lawsuit and how it affects his standing with the team and within the NFL.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
First question: “Are you in good standing to keep playing?”
Answer: “I’m super grateful to be here. I’m thankful to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I’ve got a lot of the offense to learn and catch up, but I’m excited and grateful to be here and be a part of these guys.”
Sounds like a Patriot, right? Brown didn’t address the yes or no question. He was probably going to give this answer first regardless of what question was asked.
Second question: “What’s it like working with Tom Brady?”
Answer: “It’s been a tremendous honor. He’s been here a long time, a lot of details, a lot of work ethic. Great guy to be around just to inspire everyone here.”
Of course, he’s going to answer this one.
Third question: “How has the process been to kind of get used to everything as everything is going on in your life?”
Answer: “Well, it’s football. I’m grateful to play football. Every time you walk in the doors here, you know to be the best for the team. So, every time I walk in here, I just want to make sure I’m preparing to give these guys my best.”
Another easy question for Brown to answer. But it really doesn’t give anyone any necessary information.
Final question: “What have you heard, if anything, from the league about your availability?”
Answer: “I appreciate that question. I’m just here to just focus on ball and look forward to get out there in the home stadium with the team.”
We’ve heard that line, “I appreciate that question,” before. It means, to this point, that Brown is following the so-called “Patriots Way” at Gillette Stadium. Brown could have said anything at his locker on Thursday afternoon, and he chose to abide by the rules. That’s a good sign for the Patriots.
Brown has posted then deleted several photos and videos to his Instagram account since joining the Patriots, so his social media usage still might need to be curbed. But if he’s handling questions the way the team wants them answered, then they can probably find a decent compromise.
Brown likely will next meet with the media after Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET game against the New York Jets. The questions might get harder. We’ll see if he follows the team’s effective media training in answering them.