Antonio Brown is one of the league’s greatest player of the last decade, yet his Hall of Fame candidacy is on rocky ground after recent developments.
The bizarre Antonio Brown saga has gotten to the point where he may never step on an NFL playing field again.
He has been jettisoned from three teams this calendar year and his legal issues and his odd behavior may keep other teams from giving him another chance even though he is still a special wide receiver at the age of 31.
Of course, Brown has stated publicly that he is done playing in the NFL.
If Brown’s playing career is, indeed, over, there is a burning question: Has Brown done enough to warrant election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
We asked several people on the Hall of Fame voting selection committee that very question. All voters were granted anonymity.
This poll indicates that Brown certainly has a chance to be given entrance into the Canton, Ohio museum. But, by no means, will he be a slam-dunk selection.
Some voters flatly stated they will not support Brown’s selection.
Voters are not supposed to make off-field issues as part of their selection process. So, Brown’s legal issues probably won’t be a factor. But the way he acted in his final days in Pittsburgh and in Oakland could play a role because some voters may look at it as him disrespecting the game.
“My gut reaction is no,” one voter said.
Added another: “Might be worthy if he played longer, but I’d vote ‘no.’’’
Still other voters said they will give Brown’s selection serious thought.
“From the time Brown entered the NFL to the time he exited, he led all wide receivers in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns,” a voter said. “He commanded double teams the way the dominant receivers do. His production and dominant play make him worthy of the Hall of Fame, in my opinion, but there are other players with similar production who haven’t gotten traction yet. It’s our job as a selection committee to make sure he gets a fair shake on the production without giving too much weight to the bizarre final year of his career.”
Remember, receivers such as Terrell Owens and Randy Moss (both of them displayed their share of odd behavior at times) both made the Hall of Fame.
Brown’s lack of an extended career and his departure from the league could combine to hurt him.
Yet, he has put up incredible numbers for a long time. There’s no denying that.
Through 2018, Brown had six straight seasons in which he amassed at least 101 catches for 1,284 yards. He made the Pro Bowl seven times. He was an All-Pro four times. He was certainly one of the best receivers in the NFL for a long stretch of his career, which is a Hall of Fame measuring stick.
If this is it for Brown, he has made a case for himself on the field.
“He has sustained productivity,” one voter said. “He was a guy defensive coordinators game planned for. It would be hard not to vote him. He got pretty disruptive off the field and in the locker room, but it’s tough to argue what he did on the field.”
One voter compared Brown’s situation to former Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson. He retired from the NFL after the 2015 season at the age of 30. He played in the NFL for nine seasons. Brown has played in the NFL for nine seasons and one game.
Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All Pro. He had 731 career receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. Brown had 841 career catches for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns. Johnson, unlike Brown, was a considered a model player in all aspects.
“With passing numbers going through the roof, I think you’ll probably need to see bigger bulk numbers from HOF receivers nominees,” one voter said. “Calvin Johnson and Antonio Brown are comparable from that standpoint, but I’d go with Johnson ahead of Brown when I take all aspects into consideration.”
The bottom line is this is a complicated matter. Voters themselves realize it and they know that when it is time to consider Brown, it could be one of the most difficult and polarizing discussing in years as this voter so thoughtfully put it.
“He is the type of candidate that truly stresses the mantra by which Hall of Fame voters are told to consider candidates — on-field accomplishments only. Despite all that has transpired in 2019, AB had only missed one game for a violation of team rules. He never was suspended by the Steelers or NFL. From a football standpoint, this is one of the most prolific wide receivers in NFL history. Nobody caught 700 passes quicker. He was a game-changer and as good as anyone who played in his decade — if not better — and he did it over a sustained period. That being said, Hall of Fame voters I believe sometimes let their emotions or own opinions about the way a player lives his life off the field.
Because of that, I question whether AB will receive induction if he doesn’t return to the NFL at some point or show redemption for the way he has allegedly treated some people. Remember — some people said Terrell Owens was a terrible teammate but he was voted into the Hall. Honestly, I believe the AB story is still being written. If he shows contrition or is ultimately exonerated of the things he has been accused of doing, it would remove the giant boulders standing in his path to Canton. If not, AB may have to wait a while — a long while — if he ever does receive the honor.”
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