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Bucs whiffed on taking another chance with Brown

It’s impossible for anyone with a sliver of conscience to rip Antonio Brown and not allow for possibility that he really does suffer from a mental health problem. Without the proper alphabet soup at the end of our names, diagnosing the man is far beyond our skillset.

Tom Brady, who majored in Organizational Studies at Michigan, gave it his best shot Sunday after what is politely referred to as Antonio Brown’s meltdown. Brady’s Buccaneers were struggling against the New York Jets. Brady’s coach, Bruce Arians, asked Brown to go into the game, Brown refused.

Arians reacted as any football coach would react – he told him to get lost.

An old hand at getting lost, Brown did it with flair. He stripped off his jersey, his shoulder pads and an undershirt and enjoyed lots of national face time.

After the game, Brady called everyone (usually defined by pro athletes as the media and fans) to show Brown empathy and sympathy.

In his post-game press briefing, Arians said announced that Brown is no longer a Buc.

Both the QB and the coach were ducking for cover. They both bear blame for what should be Brown’s last NFL chance.

Note the word should. NFL coaches love discipline, but if an undisciplined soul can help them climb the league’s highest mountain, they might succumb to temptation.

Arians will be held accountable for his complicity in giving Brown another chance in the NFL. He spoke of second chances when welcoming Brown’s return, forgetting his wasted opportunities in Pittsburgh, Oakland and with the Patriots.

New Englanders will remember The Antonio Brown Era for his touchdown pass and, a day later, tossing rhetorical brickbats at Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft on his way to a hunt for his next chance at redemption.

Brady convinced Arians and Bucs management last season that Brown could help down the stretch. He did; the Bucs won the Super Bowl, Brady won another MVP and Arians was the consensus pick as Coach of the Year.

They got away with it – a great reward for what seemed like a mountainous risk.

They went one roll of the dice too many by signing him to one-year deal for this season. Knowing when to walk away is the key to successful gambling.

Brown had knee surgery last year, began the season on the reserve COVID-19 list and was suspended for violating the league’s pandemic protocols.

When he abandoned the pirate ship Sunday, Brady and Arians could not have been shocked, and they had to have been chagrined.

If there is further fall-out – or the Bucs do a playoff pratfall – he’ll take the blame.

Brady will amble on down his GOAT path. Seven Super Bowls have given him an impenetrable Teflon coating.

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