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Sports

Capece: Raiders shouldn’t waste time with Antonio Brown

| Friday, September 6, 2019

As I normally do when I return from class each day, I turned on the TV yesterday and flipped to ESPN. And that’s when the idea for this column basically slapped me in the face.

“Raiders plan to suspend WR Antonio Brown after altercation with GM Mike Mayock,” was the headline that flashed across the screen. To be frank, while preseason drama like this is a major reason why the NFL remains so popular among viewers, I am sick of hearing about the antics of the former Pittsburgh Steelers star wideout. Everyone who watches football is aware of how talented and productive Brown is, but the negative sentiments created by his diva personality far outweigh anything he could do on the field for the Raiders this season. As radical as it may sound, the time has come for the Raiders to cut their biggest offseason acquisition.

There are a couple of reasons why Oakland should part ways with the Brown, the first being that this Raiders team just can’t afford to have his personality in the locker room setting a terrible example for younger players. A rebuilding team like Oakland that hasn’t won a whole lot in recent memory needs to establish a culture where players are willing to sacrifice for the greater success of the team.

The players of course need to buy into creating that type of culture, and as Mayock said in August “[Brown] is either all in or all out.” It’s clear that Brown is not all in on doing things the team’s way, and he’s displayed that he is more than willing to be a distraction in order to make his point. From his helmet grievance with the league to freezing his feet in a cryotherapy chamber and skipping practice, Brown has been nothing but a headache for the Raiders up to this point. While the team could certainly benefit from having the most dynamic receiver in the game as the focal point of its offense this season, it’s just not worth sacrificing the long term locker room chemistry that’s essential for any team to contend for championships.

Additionally, the quarterback situation in Oakland makes it difficult to justify keeping Brown. As Derek Carr enters his fifth season with the team, the Raiders are still trying to figure out whether he will be their quarterback of the future. While Carr has shown promise in previous years and played exceedingly well at the end of last season, he still hasn’t shown he can lead the Raiders on a deep playoff run. It’s really now or never for Carr to prove he can develop into the quarterback the Raiders thought he would become when they drafted him in 2014. However, it’s more likely that the addition of Brown actually hinders Carr rather than helping him grow. While the two seem to have a solid relationship off the field, Brown caused numerous disputes with two time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger. If Brown wasn’t satisfied with a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s caliber, what makes the Raiders think he will cooperate with their unproven signal caller? If things don’t work out between Carr and Brown on the field this season, the Raiders may pick a quarterback in the loaded 2020 draft. Any prospect taken will likely experience some growing pains, which will frustrate Brown even more.

If the Raiders aren’t experiencing buyers remorse now, consider the fact that the NFL season only started yesterday. This marriage has plenty of time to get even worse, and it’s difficult to see the relationship between Brown and the Raiders mending itself over the course of the season. While I’m sure the Raiders wouldn’t want to let Brown go for nothing, I’m not sure any general manager wants to deal with the circus he has created. If the Raiders were to cut Brown right now, they would owe the receiver 30 million in guaranteed money. Considering the team only surrendered a third and a fifth round pick to get Brown in the first place, it’s a small price to pay to right a ship that has already begun to sink.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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