Brown hopes he can change minds with Bucs

by Gary Shelton on November 5, 2020

in general

Brown begins long journey back to stardom./TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Thursday, 4 a.m.

When a player is running out of chances, he needs to grab his career with both hands.

Oh, and the football, too.He needs to grab a lot of footballs.

Antonio Brown, the receiver so many NFL fans are weary of, makes his debut for the Bucs on Sunday night against New Orleans. Between all of his complaitns, beside his charges of rape, beyond his altercations with team officials, Brown will try to return to the NFL elite.

Are you betting on him? And would most people be?

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Brown, who has made himself unwelcome in Pittsburgh, Oakland and New England, was a risk made by the Bucs because of their injuries at wide receiver. Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, has caught 841 passes in his career. Still, his signing was not a popular move.

“Hopefully, I can change their perspective being here around great people (and a) great organization," Brown said. "Hopefully, I can win them over with my actions, how I move forward and how I handle my business.

“I’ve just been spending a lot of time with family, working on myself within and just staying resilient. Keeping the mind on the mission that’s being a football player and doing all the things that come with that. Even when the times got hard, keeping myself in shape, keeping myself motivated from within, not listening to the naysayers or not giving doubt or worries about [if] I’d be able to return. I had a lot of good trainers [and] good people around me in my corner that kept me encouraged [and] kept me motivated. I just believed. I knew one day I would get a chance to be back in this position and I just tried to check every box to make sure that when I was able to get back, I was ready to go.”

Brown played only one game with Brady in New England, but Brady was seen as one of the primary reasons the Bucs took a chance. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the Bucs didn't have an early need for Brown, but injuries have changed things.

"I think when you judge people – is it (an) allegation?" Arians said "There’s no convictions of anything. I think for people that want to doubt the decision – I defend my record on all those type of things. I don’t have a problem with it and it’s not all just about winning.

“Everything’s been very, very positive. I think he’s in a good spot right now and for us, just getting him taught and getting him going. Our conversations were very, very positive. I think he’s just moving forward and trying to have a positive attitude and taking every bit of care of this opportunity given to him.”

The Bucs still don't know if Godwin will be back this week, and Evans has been slowed by an ankle injury. Brown could be thrust into the game right away.

“It’s extremely hard (to come back)," Arians said. "He does have some recall to what we’ve done together when I was coaching him, so there is some of that – not a whole lot. It’s just going out and playing football. He knows how to play football and he knows how to run routes. It’s just learning the routes that we want, the words and the things. He’s got Chris, Mike and Scotty (Miller) – everybody’s going to help him.”

Brown knows not everyone is pulling for him in his comeback.

“I took a lot of time off from the game to re-evaluate myself, to look within, to get a better perspective of myself and working on myself within and without," Brown said. "To be in this position, we followed the mission and to get back on track is what I’m here to do.

“I just feel like I’m a better person. I wouldn’t say I’m a different person, but I’m a better person. [I’m] learning a lot about myself and working on myself for a year and a half. I think I’m a better person.”

Brown is pleased to be playing with Brady.

“Tom is my boy," Brown said. "(He’s) one of the greatest leaders to be around. He’s encouraging, always inspiring, he brings out the best in the people around him (and) he wants the best for everyone around him. He’s the greatest quarterback of all time. Nothing he has done in the past matters – he’s always getting better day in and day out and I’ve just learned a lot from him (with) how he trains, how he takes care of himself professionally, his discipline, his work ethic, his approach. He’s been a great guy in my corner and one of my close friends.”

"I think there’s a lot of similarities in our work ethic, being guys who (were) supposed to be underachievers (and) guys who were never supposed to make it. Sixth-round, late bloomers – guys who develop chips. Just wanting to be the best [and] yearn for being the best, always growing and getting better. Obviously, he’s the greatest quarterback in the world, so I’m just grateful to be here, to be his teammate to be in the huddle with him [and] to be a part of the process here in Tampa Bay. Super grateful – TB12 is my boy and I’m grateful for that.”

Brown thinks fans will change their minds after watching him play.

"I love playing (and) I’m going to go out and give it everything I’ve got, but at the end of the day I’m trying not to let how I kick affect my mentality. I think that’s something that’s been a blessing to me is trying to have other things in [my] life. For me, it’s my faith and my family. I think the kicking takes care of itself when those two things are good.” 

The Bucs are home against the Saints Sunday night at 8:20 p.m.

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