It was a bit surprising when New England signed Antonio Brown after he unexpectedly hit free agency.
The Patriots are defending Super Bowl champs and have a fantastic team without Brown, as the Steelers learned this past Sunday. They have no great need for Brown, and Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are unlikely to embrace distraction. That was apparent when each got testy over questions about Brown when they addressed the media Wednesday. Belichick cut his briefing short because of it.
Now circumstances are further heightened because of a sexual assault lawsuit filed against Brown. The Patriots say they didn’t know about it before signing him. (Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus did, almost certainly keeping it from the Patriots.)
If the Patriots had it to do over again, they might. Brown’s future even now seems uncertain. He could easily find himself on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s exempt list. Playing in New England’s game Sunday would be a bad look for all concerned. That story would take over the NFL, however briefly.
But if the Patriots regret or reconsider, it will be for football reasons only. It will be because Brown’s presence will cause distraction counterproductive to the pursuit of winning.
It will have zero to do with ethics. The Patriots have none. They are absolutely amoral, with no regard for anything but winning. It’s part of what makes them good.
Brown’s resume of bad behavior is extensive:
Brown threw furniture off a balcony, nearly braining a toddler and his grandfather. He was ticketed for driving 100 mph. He no-showed Week 17 last season. He addressed Oakland GM Mike Mayock by a racial slur and threatened to punch him in the head.He threatened a reporter via social media.He wiretapped Oakland Coach Jon Gruden and made that audio public. He missed much of Oakland’s training camp pitching a fit over his helmet. He is late for everything: Practice, meetings, paid appearances and sick kids. He sabotaged his coach, quarterback, huddle and locker room in Pittsburgh.
The Patriots knew all that, and signed Brown anyway.
The Patriots also have a dark resume:
Spygate. Deflate-gate. Owner Robert Kraft paying for sexual favors at a massage parlor. A murderer in their midst. (The Patriots didn’t know exactly what Aaron Hernandez was capable of, but knew he was a real bad guy. Being a good tight end trumped that.) A cocaine user starts in the defensive backfield.
When the Patriots signed Brown, some figured it was because they do OK rehabilitating problem cases.
But mostly, it was birds of a feather.
Courtesy of Getty Images.