Tom Brady has learned the hard way that vouching for someone with a questionable background can have serious repercussions in the court of public opinion.
Antonio Brown ran off the field shirtless Sunday at MetLife Stadium, a bizarre meltdown that culminated with Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians saying after Tampa Bay’s 28-24 win over the New York Jets that the wide receiver no longer was a member of the organization.
Brown’s status with the Bucs already had been in question in recent weeks, with the 33-year-old earning a three-game suspension from the NFL for misrepresenting his COVID-19 vaccination status. But Arians pulled a 180 and welcomed Brown back, only to have the situation blow up in Tampa Bay’s face, a development that certainly doesn’t reflect well on Brady.
Nick Wright took Brady to task Monday on FS1’s “First Things First,” comparing the quarterback’s ill-advised support of Brown to the criticism NBA superstar LeBron James faces whenever a hand-picked addition doesn’t work for him and his basketball team.
“I also think, (Chris) Broussard, that if we are being fair, if we are going to hold Tom Brady to the standards of which we hold, oh I don’t know, the other active GOAT, LeBron James, he’s gotta wear some of this, too,” Wright said. “LeBron gets tarred for bringing in a player that doesn’t fit on the team on the court. Tom Brady went to bat for this guy multiple times, had him move in to his house. The head coach didn’t want him, they brought him in anyway, and it ended the way so many of us thought it would — with Antonio Brown making a fool of himself and hurting his team.”
The Brady-Brown dynamic always has been interesting, dating back to Brown’s 11-day stint with the Patriots in 2019, Brady’s final season in New England. The Bucs acquiesced in bringing Brown aboard last season, after Arians expressed initial skepticism, and the move helped bring a Super Bowl title to Tampa Bay. But this season has been much rockier, with AB now leaving yet another franchise on bad terms — after awful breakups with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the then-Oakland Raiders and the Patriots.
“I’m not trying to harp too much on this point, but the point I made about Brady I think is a fair one,” Wright said. “Why did Arians change his mind? Because Brady wanted him to. … It is not unreasonable to ask how much of this should Tom wear? Because this was Tom’s guy. They brought (him) in, at not a big position of need, and it went this way.
“You think that’s crazy? You think that’s crazy that if you bring in a malcontent who’s worn out his welcome elsewhere and then it goes like this, that it’s not on the guy who brought him in?”