False Prophets: Antonio Brown Given Spotlight on “Hard Knocks”

A man with a unique skill set and an ability to sell himself uses his talents to rise to millionaire status and reap all of the fame that follows. Unfortunately, the riches and stardom plant a seed of arrogance in his brain that over time blossoms into the mighty oak of egotism. Without anyone constantly checking his inflated pride, his grasp on reality continues to tint to the hue of his own false perception over time. 

If this description was left to a Washington Post-reading American to decipher the profile of this unnamed man, many might guess it belongs to current President Donald J. Trump. When he ran for President, Trump claimed, “You’ll say please, please, it’s too much winning! We can’t take it anymore!” While many considered the President to be arrogant prior to him taking his seat in the oval office, his egotism and off-the-walls rhetoric has been on full display since obtaining the power of the president. 

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However, if the profile mentioned before was read just ten years earlier, many might suggest the profile in question belonged to rap sensation, Kanye West. Ye sent shockwaves through the pop culture universe when he jumped on stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards to interrupt Taylor Swift’s victory for ‘Best Female Music Video.’ West’s well-known arrogance was on full display that night and has since been described by many fans and critics as self-obsessed.

Rebooting their controversial show known for displaying Trump and West-like arrogance, HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” provided another thread of an ego-centric American. This time the star of the show is Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver Antonio Brown. The show, which recently finished its season showcasing Brown’s exploits, closely followed Brown’s decline into Trump and Kanye-like madness.

Since the end of last season, Brown forced himself out of Pittsburgh, called out his former quarterback on social media, got frostbite on his feet, and sued the NFL over a rule that requires players to wear safer helmets — and thus has given the producers at HBO a lot to work with. 

In all seriousness, Brown’s ignorance towards his flaws and outlandish behavior is concerning. Whether it was in an attempt to brighten the news-riddled athlete or at the disposal of Brown’s ego, the penultimate episode of this season’s Hard Knocks was flooded with pro-Antonio Brown content. This episode featured several instances of Brown basking in the fan love, opening fan mail, and joining in on chants for himself at De La Salle High School in Oakland, California. Brown’s selective hearing when it comes to reactions from fans has shown that his interest in being idolized by young fans might be at the top of his goals.

Just last season, Brown was a no-show for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final regular season game — a must-win versus the Cincinnati Bengals. This is the same guy that live-streamed Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s post-game locker room speech, violating team rules and blatantly disrespecting his coach in the process.

Brown’s talents on the field have placed his bloated ego on the backburner — something quite likely to happen again this season in black and silver. However, considering the sheer amount of hits to the head he has received in his career (the concussion from Vontaze Burfict comes to mind), I have a legitimate concern over his mental health at this point. 

You could appreciate his talents as one of the greatest in his position, or you could complain about the way he acts off the field. But at the end of the day, Antonio Brown will be up late watching his old highlights knowing no one can top him.

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