FOXBORO, Mass. — His comments might not pass the smell test, but Antonio Brown nevertheless said great things about Bill Belichick and the Patriots after Sunday night’s game at Gillette Stadium.
First: some context.
Brown played one game for the Patriots early in the 2019 season but was released a week later amid mounting legal issues. Upon his release, the star receiver publicly attacked New England owner Robert Kraft, along with just about everyone else in the NFL.
He then displayed erratic, and occasionally disturbing, behavior while his career hung in limbo. Brown eventually landed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 and won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady.
That brings us to Sunday.
Hours before catching seven balls for 63 yards in a Bucs win, Brown shared a bizarre pregame hype video, which took aim at Belichick and the Patriots for what happened during his brief Foxboro tenure.
So, it was somewhat surprising to hear Brown during the postgame say being with the Patriots was the “best experience” of his life. In fact, it was downright unbelievable. Given the turmoil he experienced over those two weeks, Brown would have to be a masochist to have enjoyed that trainwreck.
Perhaps Brown simply was being hyperbolic and saying stuff just to say stuff. Admitedly, his ensuing comments seemingly were… genuine? Either that or Brady has helped him master the art of delivering total hogwash during press conferences.
“Bill Belichick one of the best coaches,” Brown said. “Preparing the players, on the field, off the field — discipline. I remember walking these same hallways to walk around the building to go to practice.
“It was amazing being a player, playing with him, just to see the preparation and the details that he go over to make sure his team prepared. And being able to talk to him after the game was an honor.”
Brown then talked about the work he put in while with the Patriots, relative to what he had experienced with the Pittsburgh Steelers and then-Oakland Raiders.
“When I came here I realized what it meant to be a Patriot,” he said. “The hard work on Wednesdays, the 1-on-1s versus starters on Wednesdays, the 1-on-1s versus starters on Thursdays. Running up the hill. The preparation from meetings, three meetings a day.
“(Belichick) is just so detail-oriented and being able to prepare the players for every situation and making sure you know your opponent as well as he knows them.”
Seems as if Brown’s feelings toward the Patriots have changed since he lambasted Kraft, right?
Brown was asked just that toward the end of his presser.
“You know, I always hat the ultimate most respect for (Kraft),” Brown said. “I just think emotionally, when I was going through my situation in 2019 and being cut and not knowing if my career would keep going, I think I was really emotional and maybe reacted in a way that was immature.
“But I got nothing but the ultimate respect for RKK. (The Patriots) gave me a great opportunity to come here to continue my career, be a part of the group. And I never take that for granted.”
Brown probably doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, given his track record. However, while there are no excuses for his past transgressions, it’s entirely possible he’s turned a new leaf matured since hitting rock bottom a couple of years ago.
If nothing else, someone whose mouth used to cause nothing but trouble now is saying all the right things.