Is Antonio Brown a Hall of Famer?

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - It's Antonio Brown Pro Football Hall of Fame debate time! And you know what that means: we must start with an impassioned plea to stay as close to the topic as possible in the comment thread, take a deep breath before posting, respect the feelings and opinions of others, and remember that nobody's views on the former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro brands them forever as society's greatest monster.

Let's take things talking point by talking point.

Statistically, Antonio Brown is Worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

That should be obvious, but it's worth laying down parameters when discussing someone as polarizing as Brown.

Brown is NOT a clear-cut first ballot selection based on his statistics, though some will inevitably claim he is. His statistical case and Pro Bowl/All-Pro count line up roughly with those of Andre Johnson, who is currently in the finalist queue, and contemporaries such as Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins, who will reach the ballot process at the same time as Brown.

Brown's case is also broadly similar to that of Calvin Johnson, a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2021. As I often note, voters I spoke to at the time made it clear that they needed to hear Megatron's case before waving him through on the first ballot, not because they thought he was undeserving but because they have so many candidates to prioritize and were reluctant to let someone cut the line who wasn't Peyton Manning-level qualified.

So a baggage-free Brown would probably be a Hall of Fame "queue" guy. But who would be all that interested in the case of a baggage-free Brown?

Brown's Football-Related Transgressions Absolutely Deserve Consideration and Debate by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee

As is often restated here at Walkthrough, voters are forbidden from taking off-field misconduct into consideration when assessing PFHoF cases. But voters ARE both allowed and expected to consider whether a candidate upheld the Hall's stated values of "courage, dedication, vision, fair play, integrity, and excellence" within the realm of their football-related activities.

Dedication and integrity are thorny issues for a player who was benched by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the heat of a playoff chase, walked away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the middle of a game just before the playoffs, and resorted to some extremely juvenile and insubordinate behavior to force his release from the Oakland Raiders. (Here's a brief Antonio Brown timeline/refresher.)

There are those who argue that none of Brown's beefs with various teams/coaches/organizations should matter. I would argue that if throwing a tantrum and going AWOL on Tom Brady and Bruce Arians just before the playoffs start doesn't matter, then nothing matters, football is all just a silly soap opera, and why even engage in a debate about whether or not someone gets a little statue in some tourist attraction off I-77?

Brown's deeds may not ultimately exclude him, but it's absurd to insist that they should not even be admissible as evidence against him.

Brown's Pro Football Hall of Fame Candidacy is Broadly Similar to Terrell Owens'

Owens, you may recall, stalled at the finalist stage for two years because a small but vocal bloc of voters fought hard for his exclusion. That bloc relented when Randy Moss reached the ballot; from what I gathered, the hardliners softened a bit in the face of public opinion and/or didn't feel strongly enough about their cause to let Moss leapfrog over Owens.

I have zero problem with forcing Owens to wait a few years, like a sinner scrubbing off some venial sins in purgatory or a smart aleck forced to clap erasers after school for a few minutes. Yet, to this day, even mentioning Owens here or on Twitter prompts a kneejerk response along the lines of Those such-'n'-such voters made him wait two years cuz they didn't like him. Of course, a) individuals such as John Lynch whom voters personally love often wait for many more years; and b) it's not the voters Owens ticked off, but his teammates and some very influential coaches.

Anyway, T.O. sets a general precedent for a pain-in-the-ass wide receiver getting into the Hall of Fame far easier than, say, a middle linebacker who didn't scowl quite as menacingly as Bill Parcells thought he should.

That Said, Brown is not Nearly as Qualified a Candidate as Owens, and His Transgressions are Far Worse

Owens retired second on the all-time receiving yardage list and third on the receiving touchdowns list. Brown will retire outside the top 20 in both categories if he fails to play another down of football (which is likely). Even a scandal-free AB could have ended up in a logjam with Julio and Nuk that kept him in the finalist queue for several years if, say, AB's career was truncated by injuries instead of suspensions and scandals.

Owens' hijinks never boiled over into public in-season insubordination or desertion against his coaches or organizations. Quite the contrary: his quick return from an ACL injury to help the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX after the 2004 season ultimately held more weight with most voters than the situps-in-the-driveway and beef with Donovan McNabb in 2005. Brown doesn't really have any late-career heroics on a scale to counterbalance scandals that impacted four separate organizations; I can't imagine voters pointing to his 2020 season and saying, "Golly, Tom Brady would have just been lost without that guy."

So while examining Owens' case is informative when discussing Brown, it's important to remember that Brown faces a tougher climb for two separate reasons.

Beyond T.O., There's Precedent for Players and Individuals with Serious 'Football Sins' Being Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Paul Hornung served a one-year gambling suspension in 1963 but was inducted in 1986. Alex Karras was suspended in the same 1963 scandal but was inducted by the Centennial Committee in 2020. Gambling on NFL games seems like a rather direct violation of fair play and integrity values of the PFHoF, and both players were barred from Canton for decades. But the Seniors and Centennial committees eventually forgave both Hornung and Karras, who (it must be noted) grew into charming elder statesmen of the game/beloved Hollywood personalities as the decades went on.

Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue spent much of his tenure declaring that concussions were no biggie despite ever-mounting evidence to the contrary. So much for vision, courage, and integrity. Some members of the committee were eager to enshrine Tagliabue for years, for whatever reason, but they chose to lay low while he was the villain in a Will Smith movie. Like Karras, Tagliabue snuck in with the Centennial Class.

If a player who gambled on NFL games and a commissioner who said "concussions, shmuckussions" in the 1990s can get into the Hall of Fame, a guy who posted private phone conversations with Jon Gruden on social media has a pretty fair shot.

Memories of Antonio Brown's Transgressions Will Fade Over Time

That's what happened with Hornung and Karras. It happened with T.O. to a degree. Fans forget just about everything except rings and highlights that make for clickable videos, while stat lines remain on Pro Football Reference forever. Stories of minor past misdeeds which are remembered become charming folktales.

Even when Brown was feuding with Gruden and the Raiders, the story was being spun in real time by folks who should have known better as an almost heroic or admirable act of civil disobedience: AB just wants to control his own fate by forcing his release, and more power to him! A few years from now, AB's exit from the Raiders will probably be conflated with Gruden's email scandal: Brown was protesting Gruden's racism, IIRC, right? His Steelers exit in 2018 is hard to find on the stat sheet and may already be forgotten: He caught 15 touchdown passes, so how can you say he hurt his team? Brown did so little for the 2021 Buccaneers that the fact that he stormed off the sideline in a midgame huff in Week 17 will probably also become a footnote.

Brown can help his legacy in this respect by a) not getting involved in any more beefs, scandals, or serious legal problems, on the field or off; b) not trying to justify his 2018-to-2021 football-related misdeeds with one of his dog-ate-my-homework tales; and c) perhaps playing a scandal-free season or two.

Point a) should be self-explanatory; the off-field stuff matters because it will be hard for the public and voters to forget any of Brown's past mistakes if he keeps making new ones.

Point b) is worth noting because AB tried to turn going AWOL from the Buccaneers into a disagreement about playing through an injury, but he has cried wolf a little too often (and sloppily) at this point; even folks with faulty BS detectors and a habit of taking the players' side in everything have figured out that Brown has an elastic relationship with facts. A retirement interview tour where he claims everything was the fault of Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock, Bruce Arians, Roger Goodell, and society itself won't endear him to the public or voters. Probably.

Point c) matters because two empty-calorie years as, say, the Bills' WR4 would push all of Brown's issues further back into history by the time his case comes before the selection committee. In fact, Brown was cruising along toward erasing most of the Steelers/Raiders stuff until the moment he went ham behind the end zone last January. The further we get from 2019, the more likely the typical fan will be to think that Brown was just another high-maintenance rapscallion who was just too real for the stuffy establishment and those fogey voters. Most of those fogeys will only fly so far in the face of public opinion.

Antonio Brown's Candidacy Will Be Cast by Some Folks as a Racial Issue

Specifically, it will be cast by some folks with whom I agree on most sociopolitical topics as a racial issue.

I'm sensitive to how racial biases permeate coverage of and attitudes toward NFL players, particularly brash, demonstrative black wide receivers. I recognize that there's a sliding scale of what's laudable, tolerable, and unforgivable based on implicit bias in football and elsewhere. Paul Hornung's nickname was "The Golden Boy," if you need the point underlined.

I also respect righteous zeal in the face of racism in all its forms and a hunger/thirst for justice. But friends and colleagues, I humbly suggest that there are much worthier outlets for that such zeal than Antonio Brown's freakin' Hall of Fame candidacy.

None of this is likely to sway the voters, who get accused of racism for passing on Owens and of stupidity when passing on Zach Thomas and Randy Gradishar. But if Brown and Julian Edelman somehow end up on the same ballot … hoo-boy, I won't be doing any talk radio that month!

Antonio Brown's Candidacy Will Be Cast by Some Folks as a Mental Health Issue

Charles Haley was considered a clubhouse malcontent for much of his playing career, and that trapped him in the semifinalist/finalist queue for a decade. Increased awareness of Haley's bipolar disorder made both voters and the old coaches/teammates who provide endorsements more sympathetic to Haley's case, leading to his 2015 enshrinement.

Brown has already been diagnosed with all sorts of disorders by Doctor Twitter. Again, I'm sympathetic to the possibility that there appears to be something else going on, and voters will be too. But Doctor Twitter's diagnosis doesn't count, and it remains possible to be a selfish, childish egomaniac without necessarily having an underlying medical reason for it.

For now, let's cross the bridge of Brown's potential mental illness issues when he crosses it.

Antonio Brown's Hall of Fame Endorsements Will Probably Be … Interesting

It doesn't sound like Mike Tomlin will go to bat for Brown very hard. Brown shouldn't expect Bruce Arians to make cold calls to voters, either. Bill Belichick, who can make or break candidacies with a grunt, doesn't like being embarrassed. (I haven't mentioned Brown's Patriots minute much because off-field incidents don't count, and because AB cannot really be faulted for the Patriots taking such a foolish risk on him at that moment.) Jon Gruden may be anathema in the public NFL sphere, but voters haven't lost his number and still value his opinions on some matters.

Tom Brady may go to bat for Brown, but that will already be priced into the evaluations of voters. Opposing defenders will praise AB, but no one questions how hard he was to cover. Ben Roethlisberger? Remember that players voted for JuJu Smith-Schuster as the Steelers team MVP over AB in 2018, and that whole Steelers team had an "every man for himself" vibe.

Terrell Owens had some former teammates who vouched for him, and eventually earned a tepid public endorsement from Bill Parcells. But again, we're talking about a different cat who did different things in team headquarters and on game day.

Antonio Brown Will Probably Eventually Be Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

My guess about the timeline:

  • Brown becomes a finalist on the first ballot because voters want his case heard by the committee.
  • Brown does not get in on the first few ballots, after fierce debate.
  • Some anti-AB hardliners soften after Julio Jones and some other contemporary receivers are inducted.
  • Public sentiment will turn increasingly toward Brown as the events of the last few years get swallowed by a memory hole. Some old teammates and coaches will start to chuckle or grow philosophical about incidents that currently make them seethe.
  • After four or five years on the ballot, voters will tire of the constant committee arguments and criticism from the Internet and will try to slide him onto a ballot where he's unlikely to be the headliner.

My Own Opinion on Antonio Brown

I have a big, big problem with people who just walk the hell off the job.

I'm not talking about social protests or job actions. Protests and job actions are understandable, even commendable, which is why the Internet hivemind worked so hard to recast Brown's Raiders nonsense as some sort of champion-of-the-common-man protest. But storming off in a huff when others are counting on you? That's immature, irresponsible bullshit, whether you're a fry cook, a teacher, a sportswriter, or a wide receiver. Do it once and it reflects poorly on you. Do it multiple times and it reflects accurately upon you. The person who walks off the job in a snit is saying they don't care about their colleagues, customers, readers, students, coaches, bosses, or even the value and meaning of the work they do and their profession/industry.

And I'll be damned if I'm supposed to go to bat for anyone who thinks that way.

I hate the idea that we're obligated to bestow honors on a player just because they checked enough boxes on some statistical to-do list. I reject the suggestion that we should handwave away actions directly detrimental to multiple teams because a guy had a string of 100-catch seasons and lots of cool highlights. I resent the supposition that it would be some miscarriage of justice to deny Brown after I have spent years writing about how Steve Atwater, Sam Mills, and Tony Boselli, not to mention Randy Gradishar, Sterling Sharpe, Roger Craig and others—men who gave every drop of sweat they had to the sport—got caught in logjams and numbers games. And I loathe, very personally, the bellicose, self-indulgent ignorance (for want of a better term) that surrounds Internet Hall of Fame arguments: AB is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and you're an idiot, asshole, or worse for daring to suggest otherwise.

So I would be pleased to see Antonio Brown quietly disappear into an obscure private life (while paying every debt to society or to individuals he may owe), never to be written about again.

Unfortunately, that won't happen if he gets passed over every year. Antonio Brown Snubbed is just too clickable a headline. So is Let's Relive What a Buttmunch AB Was. And yes, so is Let's Stroke Our Beards and Discuss Both Sides. Articles like this one, which are very popular and generate lots of attention for Football Outsiders, are never written about players who have already been enshrined. A snubbed near-Hall of Famer is a cause celebre. An actual Hall of Famer—if he hasn't gone on to coaching, the booth, or some successful post-football endeavor—is a guy walking around Super Bowl radio row in a gold jacket hawking his boilerplate memoir or some male-enhancement product.

Therefore, I hope Antonio Brown gets into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on an early ballot. O.J. Simpson's there, after all. So are Tagliabue, Hornung, and Karras, and lots of guys who showed up for games still drunk or with white powder on their upper lips. Here's your bust, make your speech, now go find out how much your autograph is worth at card shows.

Would Brown's enshrinement diminish the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Incrementally. Would it be unfair to other candidates with far more respect for the game, the fans and themselves? Sure. But football is a much better sport to watch, talk about and write about without constant conversations about Antonio Brown.

Comments

140 comments, Last at 18 Jul 2022, 7:42pm

1 T.O. sets a general…

T.O. sets a general precedent for a pain-in-the-ass wide receiver getting into the Hall of Fame

If pains in the ass WRs couldn't make the Hall, it would consist of only Don Hutson, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, and Calvin Johnson, with a spot reserved for Larry Fitzgerald.

Paul Hornung served a one-year gambling suspension in 1963 but was inducted in 1986. Alex Karras was suspended in the same 1963 scandal but was inducted by the Centennial Committee in 2020. 

Karras had to wait 50 years. Hornung 20 -- and Hornung was a star for both Notre Dame and the Lombardi Packers. Waiting 20 years under those conditions is like a normal man having to wait 200 years.

Karras and Hornung are interesting comps. For both guys, knowingly gambling on football games was in character. But so is a WR being completely looney-toons, rights? It's a little different here. For Karras and Hornung, gambling was part of why they were so popular and endearing.

Hornung was a carouser and a womanizer and an inveterate gambler who used to work at Churchill Downs and eventually raced horses there. People loved him because he was a carouser and a womanizer and an inveterate gambler who used to work at Churchill Downs and eventually raced horses there.

Alex Karras was not only a pawn in the game of life. Karras was too smart to be an indentured servant and knew he was too smart to be an indentured servant, so he set out to make trouble for management -- and was very successful at it. By holding himself hostage, he got away clean. Once he became an actor, it became apparent to everyone else that Alex Karras was too smart for management and had successfully set out to make trouble. People loved him because he looked dumb, but wasn't. And he eventually snuck in as a last snub of management. Bet they didn't see that coming.

O.J. Simpson's there

When OJ was inducted, he had been married to Nicole Brown Simpson for seven months.

If you want to get into really complicated racial dynamics via post-Hall misbehavior, it's Jim Brown.

There is a level of misbehavior which will keep you out -- see Jim Tyrer. AB ain't there, yet. But there's still time.

3 There was that

Was Cris Carter inducted before or after his 'make sure you always have a fall guy with you' advice?

63 As we learn more about it, I…

As we learn more about it, I can imagine a reevaluation of Jim Tyrer that views both him and his family as early victims of CTE. It's impossible for Tyrer to get into the HoF next year; it might be possible in 20 years.  Granted, that's probably a world where football has been significantly reworked to protect player safety.

2 Articles like this one,…

Articles like this one, which are very popular and generate lots of attention for Football Outsiders, are never written about players who have already been enshrined. 

If you could kick one person out of the Hall of Fame, who would it be?

Let me ask that again: If you could kick one person who was not an owner or commissioner out of the Hall of Fame, who would it be?

11 For what it's worth, my gut…

For what it's worth, my gut vote is Paul Hornung.

There are a few guys in the Hall who confuse me, and I'm curious what the story was.

Jim Kelly and Sam Mills make sense -- their USFL exploits (basically the best offensive and defensive players in the USFL) put them over. LeBeau was underqualified as a player, but it was used as an excuse to get him in for reasons really based on his coaching career. Even Aikman and Csonka I get, even if it's mostly based on ringz. Tom Mack, Jackie Slater, and Winston Hill I think I get.

But what are Floyd Little, Tommy McDonald, Curley Culp, Claude Humphrey, Fred Dean, Dave Wilcox, and Emmitt Thomas doing in the Hall?

33 Hornung

Spend a few minutes with Hornung's Pro Football Reference page and I challenge you not to give a "him?" that rival Michael Bluth's "her?" regarding Ann Egg.  Hornung appears to be a "famous for being famous" type like low-level celebrities on an old game show.  His Heisman certainly helped him, which seems weird.

88 yup

In reply to by jorite

Hornung was a star player in the Packer's dynasty of the 60s, but after a few very productive early years, he didn't really do all that much. Career rushing yards: 3711.  That's less than 2 seasons of Terrell Davis,  Career receiving yards: 1480.  And he lost his age-28 season to the gambling suspension. 

Somehow he won the NFL MVP award in 1961 gaining only 61.9 yards from scrimmage per game.  Jim Brown literally had more than twice that. I guess "RB wins" was a big stat back then.  

Hornung's only in because he was a star on the Packers.  Statistically, his case is absurdly weak.  I randomly compared him to fullback Sam Cunningham, and that's about the level Hornung should be at - if that high.  

92 I totally agree that Hornung…

In reply to by RickD

I totally agree that Hornung was a star. I'm just baffled about why.

He was an okay RB on some terrible ND teams. He was the second-best RB on the Lombardi Packers. He wasn't even as good of a gambler as Alex Karras.

\To show how inflated those teams were, Tom Moore got a PB in 1962. On 377 yards at 3.4 ypc. He was a rare blend of low volume and low efficiency.

95 When you have Vince Lombardi…

When you have Vince Lombardi saying that Hornung was the best player he'd ever coached, and the greatest player he'd ever seen in the red zone, that's a hell of an endorsement.  And even with that endorsement, Hornung still was elected in his 12th year as a finalist, so he's been a borderline case basically forever.  I think it's fair to say that Lombardi's endorsement probably ended up putting Hornung over the top; that does make it harder to make the case that he was the second-best running back on Lombardi's Packers (even if I think you're probably right about that!).  At the very least, it probably cancels out the suspended for gambling black mark. It's also worth noting it happened the year after he made the College Hall of Fame, so there was real momentum in reevaluating his career in the mid-1980s.

I think Hornung also got a lot of credit at the time for his scoring records, as he led the league in scoring for three straight years and was the single-season leader in points scored until LaDainian Tomlinson broke the record in 2006; he's still second-most all time despite teams playing five more games now than they did in 1960. Obviously, this is because no one plays running back and kicks anymore, and I think modern voters wouldn't be as impressed by it, but "scored more points than anyone else ever" is a decent feather in one's cap, at least.

36 There are tons of people in the HOF that don't belong IMO

There are tons of people in the HOF that don't belong IMO, but the voters put them in. I look at the names and can agree they were short on stats for the most part, but the guys you mentioned specifically were before my time watching the NFL. I'd say Sterling Sharpe belongs in there (he's like Terrell Davis and Boselli, short career due to injury) and hasn't made it yet, as well as Otis Taylor. It's criminal a guy like that hasn't made the Hall yet. He was a prototype for the big wide receiver and won AFL championship(s?) and a Super Bowl, where he had an iconic catch and run for a TD in a low scoring game. 

48 Nice point

His resume is...as identical as you can get to Bob Hayes. Both:

  • Played from '65-'75
  • 8 year starter 
  • 1 SB
  • 2 AP1
  • 3 PB
  • 56.2 rec yards per game
  • 0.2 rush attempts per game (!!!)
  • No all decade team
  • Entire career in one league/conference 
  • On one MVP ballot 
  • No ROTY
  • No OPOTY votes

Just doesn't have the name recognition unfortunately for him. Ok Hayes was better but 14+ years later of induction better...eh idk. Better nickname though. 

69 Dan Fouts

Dan Fouts if we're just sticking to on field.  Eli will take his place shortly as guy who's in as most egregious case of being a Popular White QB Who's Good With Media.

The Guy Who Invented NFL Films (and similar) if we're allowed to get rid of people for not being players/coaches.

 

75 Dan Fouts >>> Eli

In reply to by TheIdealGrassLaw

Bold of you to come to Football Outsiders proclaiming Fouts is just some guy when they've just released numbers for 1981/1982 DVOA suggesting he was snubbed of two MVPs just in that timespan, without even getting into his dominant years beforehand.

 

Comparing him to Eli is so flawed, one had a dominant peak, setting the single season passing yards record 3 times in a row (and was on pace for a 4th in 1982) meanwhile Eli has one dominant statistical year (2011) and otherwise was all about longevity and his other SB run. I'd go as far to say that you couldn't have picked two more different candidates.

86 seconded

Fouts was so much better than Eli it's stunning that anybody would equate them.

Fouts only looks weak compared to Marino and the QBs who played after the passing game exploded.  But Fouts was the guy right at the start of the passing revolution.  A Hall of Fame without Fouts would be ridiculous. 

There are many Hall of Fame QBs with weaker records than Fouts: Namath, Griese, Warner, Starr, and Dawson come  to mind.

98 Oh, they're not equivalent,…

In reply to by RickD

Oh, they're not equivalent, Eli's much worse and is going to go 1st ballot.  He played for NY you know!  So he pre-emptively replaces Dan as guy I'd remove.

99 Starr and Warner>

In reply to by RickD

1 and 2 among inactive players, to this day, in playoff passer rating. Along with the champions MVPs of all sorts (SB and RS).

4 Sounds interesting, but

1), OJ is too obvious an answer;

2), the answers as a whole could turn hyper-political very easily.

5 Oh, and

Outstanding article.

51 100% agreed. I really…

In reply to by BigRichie

100% agreed. I really appreciate Tanier covering all of the football-related angles and doing his best to separate personal feelings from professional opinions.

I generally feel that any honours/awards/titles should start with a basic question: "does this person/group/organization exemplify what you want to be represented?"

By this standard, what the NFL Hall of Fame stands for is "personal success in the NFL over all other considerations". And I'm sure that frustrates the hell out of some voters who know they'll never be able to do anything about it.

I think the real problem is that "Hall of Fame" is a misnomer. When you're electing people based mostly on resumes and reference checks, what you have is a "Hall of Accomplishments". If that's what's really going on here, it's fine to put AB in while acknowledging his history of being a horrible teammate.

52 It's actually the Pro…

It's actually the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is why AFPA, AAFL, AFL, USFL, and CFL accomplishments have gotten some guys in, or over the bar.

It's unclear to me whether "pro" means the player or the league, which may have ramifications for how the NIL era affects membership.

59 Billy Shaw is the only one…

Billy Shaw is the only one in the Hall of Fame who never played in the "NFL"; his entire career was with the Bills before the merger.  The plaques in the Hall do acknowledge AFL teams, as well as AAFC teams and Ohio League teams which later entered the NFL, but they ignore all other football leagues, including major ones like the CFL.

61 Thank you! (PFR does this as…

Thank you!

(PFR does this as well)

Kelly and Mills stand out as having skimpy resumes until you consider their USFL exploits. (And they didn't hurt Herschel Walker or Reggie White any) Or Warren Moon and the CFL.

6 Definitely HoFer

The combination of better production than Megatron while being half his size and Tanier’s vitriol tells me he is definitely a HoFer.  Tanier seems to reserve his hate for HoFers—see Brady, Tom, and Belichek, William.

8 Even if you restrict AB to…

In reply to by Raiderfan

Even if you restrict AB to his Pittsburgh years, he has less production and a lesser peak than Johnson, with more headaches, and while on a much better team.

There is also Pittsburgh's Packers-like ability to just randomly spawn WR1s.

7 Hoping AB gets in so no one…

Hoping AB gets in so no one pays any attention to him is just sad. I get it and I'm pretty sure Mike is right, but it's sad that is what sports journalism has come to. I get that writing about AB's hall case gets more clicks that Larry Fitzgerald, despite the fact it's obvious which career is more worth celebrating. I really appreciated the dynasty and other historical pieces(198x) for that reason, it allows one to appreciate the history. 
 

HOFm has brown as dead average, so it's not like the issues keeping him out would be a travesty

Still, despite all the noise, it seems like a  pretty open-shut case. He gets in, but not first ballot. Either extreme would be pretty surprising. (This is assuming he doesn't play again.  An issue free season(2 is better) might get him to first ballot, seems unlikely at this time however. 

 

9 but it's sad that is what…

but it's sad that is what sports journalism has come to.

Has come to?

Was there ever a golden age? There have been a few great sportswriters, but very few sports journalists. Grantland Rice, for instance, was a fabulous writer (mostly of hagiographies) but a useless journalist.

12 Using the average isn't right

There's more straight in right now HOFrs below than there are TOTAL WRs above it, and that's including guys not in like AB.

Rice and company just skew it.

Also he's above it if we want to be technical. 

77 Yeah, but I suspect the…

Yeah, but I suspect the mental health thing is also real. So he probably gets in, just not first ballot. 

 

Torry Holt may be the best comp, fairly similar stats  and HOFm scores. 
https://stathead.com/football/pcm_finder.cgi?player_id2=HoltTo00&player_id1=BrowAn04&sum=0&request=1

He's been a finalist for ~8 years, so he's a pretty good comp that AB's stats arn't first ballot. 

10 I dont care about him walking off

In the grand scheme of things we forget this is entertainment. And AB wasn't the first either. No one would care for a single moment if an actor walked off set in the middle of a shoot. 

Comparing it to a teacher who walks out on kids is pretty disingenuous. Consequences are hardly the same. 

He seems egotistical and selfish (see also Kaep comments) but the assault allegations are far worse than this or that and yet you don't mention and get upset at those possible criminal activities? 

14 but the assault allegations…

but the assault allegations are far worse than this or that and yet you don't mention and get upset at those possible criminal activities? 

From the article: "voters are forbidden from taking off-field misconduct into consideration when assessing PFHoF cases"

That was off-field stuff, and Tanier's article is about how AB's Hall voting would go.

That two of the people he assaulted or stole services from, or his fraudulent covid statement, were "game-related" in that it involved trainers may let those edge in as plausibly "on-field." 

Comparing AB's antics to Vontae Davis does a huge disservice to Vontae Davis.

17 He put it under his opinion.

Off field things magically turning into on field but only for raw career rec yardz argument.

Vontae Davis fully retired. How is that not like walking off outside of priors? Lol stop. 

18 There's a difference between…

There's a difference between being a heavy machine operator who decides to suddenly retire because they can't safely operate their equipment anymore, and being a drunken moron who who shows up to their crane late, gives a finger, and staggers back out.

I'll leave which person matches which as an exercise to the reader.

21 So as I thought.

Not different outside holding different priors (and comparing them to intoxicnation) lol, it's entertainment, same as operating dangerous equipment.

You're really doing a good job to keep up your hatred against WRs, for some reason.  

53 If you totally abandon…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

If you totally abandon motive, you're left with the statement that both Darryl Stingley and Antonio Brown were guys who refused to re-enter the game after stating they sustained an injury, and never played again.

That's reducing conditions to a Pythonesque level of absurdity.

\Incidentally, this article about John Madden and Darryl Stingley is great: https://www.espn.com/page2/s/toomay-maddeninfull.html 

54 Motive?

Like comparing Kirk and Russ?

Whew.

Imagine caring about a guy that left after being told to leave because he didn't feel because he wasn't mentally or physically there.

Whew. Couldn't be me.

57 It's amusing how much that…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

It's amusing how much that observation offends you.

\Cousins is also much better against the Packers

28 "No one would care for a…

"No one would care for a single moment if an actor walked off set in the middle of a shoot. "

Are you kidding me? Actors quitting on their obligations have bankrupted some of them and torched careers of others.

37 You never cared. Don't make…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

You never cared. Don't make up things.

Yeah, sure. Making up things. Must've been making up all of those documentaries and interviews I've seen of actors from shows I've liked (well, and shows that other family liked). Some of us enjoy learning.

And moreover it just shows how narrow a viewpoint you're taking - even if you don't care, the other actors, director, producers, and studio absolutely cared. Which is totally analogous to this situation - even if you don't care about Brown's antics, it's pretty clear that NFL GMs, players, and coaches did, and those are the guys  the Hall of Fame talks to.

38 Lol

It's...entertainment. 

"Arians spoke to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer after the game as well, explaining he tried to get Brown to go into the game and Brown refused. Arians tried to get Brown to go in again and he refused, which is when Arians told Brown to leave."

I dont care. And if THAT'S what's holding him back...corny and lame. 

Go care about some real crimes instead of forcing players to...not take a break and but then do what you want. 

41 It's...entertainment.  …

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

It's...entertainment. 

Which... is why I don't credit something that doesn't entertain me? It's a Hall of Fame discussion. If you're going to only care about the numbers listed for a guy on PFR, just automate the whole thing and be done with it.

Go care about some real crimes

I would absolutely be on board with banning players from the Hall for serious legal offenses - unfortunately, as Mike said, that's not allowed.

44 That one thing

Discredits everything, amazing.

I would absolutely be on board with banning players from the Hall for serious legal offenses - unfortunately, as Mike said, that's not allowed.

Crazy how yall keep lying. To us and yourselves. You clearly take it into account.

47 Crazy how yall keep lying…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Crazy how yall keep lying. To us and yourselves. You clearly take it into account.

If I wasn't able to divorce personal feelings from a discussion, there would be like, 5 or 6 fewer posts on this thread.

19 He should eventually get in because . . .

1. Being the best at a major position for multiple years, while not a hard stat, is, to my mind, part of what any sports HoF is about.  Those plaques/busts should mostly be: Player X was the world's best Z for half a decade or more.  And AB was.

2. Down the road, as the culture continues to shift and science evolves, voters will be less judgmental and more foregiving about cases that involve likely (can't be diagnosed til after death) severe cases of CTE caused by years of football-induced trauma, as well as other forms of mental illness that lead to difficult-to-understand, harmful (to one's self and others) behaviors that transcend basic pesonality flaws like "immature."  If his condition continues to decline in the years to come, it will become harder to ignore.

3. Brown's not open/shut like Rice, and there is a long backlog of players generally and WRs speifically.  He would face a waiting period even w/o the the bad on-field behavior.  But in this case, that waiting period will help point no. 2 to foment.

Finally, Terell Owens might be an important precedent for reasons beyond what Tanier outlines.  Owens, when inducted, boycotted Canton altogether and isntead ceremonially received his gold jacket and gave a speech at his alma mater (UT-Chatanooga).  And if that weren't enough, he opened with a lengthy lambasting of HoF voters who'd made him wait, quoting MLK and the Bible to do it, and telling fans, for no discernable reason, that he loved himself more than he loved them.  The only players he thanked were Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Would voters worry that AB's acceptance would be as insulting as Owens'?  Or would they care if, years from now, it's as tragic as Mike Webster's?  I don't know, but I would love to hear how this would or would not play into their decision making.

25 Owens is a little weird. He…

Owens is a little weird. He hated the media, who vote on the Hall. But teams never really turned away from him: his career ended because of age/ability, not "this guy's not worth it." Even Owens's 2005 was completely reasonable, as it was about money (and Owens *was* dramatically underpaid).

Brown, I think, is different - he hates the coaches/execs (plus the media, I guess) so it'll be interesting. I could believe coaches/players would stand up for Owens, being like "you guys are blowing this out of proportion." Not sure who would stand up for Brown.

23 Brown's career was just too…

Brown's career was just too short. I wasn't a fan of Johnson getting in (definitely not first ballot) but Brown is just too short for me. Especially when I have to toss out 2018 due to him causing so many problems as to be benched (that's a personal thing: I don't care how great your season is, if you get benched for your behavior you're negatively contributing to the team).

What really kills it for me is Brown's career isn't short because of injury (Davis) or choice (Johnson) but because teams just didn't want him anymore. You could even make the case that if you allowed teams a do-over with foreknowledge he might not have been on a team as far back as '18.

30 He literally played more than CJ.

And 10 more games than first ballot Lance Alworth who also made the PB 7x.

Padding does nothing. The 2018 "benching" saw him miss one game in which the they only scored 16 and won by 3 at home. As opposed to facing the same team earlier, scoring 28 and winning by 7 on the road. Yeesh. That's a negative? 

At least Tanier didn't deny the strict on field accomplishments.

39 130 games started (Johnson)…

130 games started (Johnson) vs 88 (Brown) non-aborted seasons, 92 if you count 2020, which you could argue.

The 2018 "benching" saw him miss one game in which the they only scored 16 and won by 3 at home.

I've already stated elsewhere that the issue is that we don't know what other effects Brown's behavior had that year. Same reason I discount all of Owens's 2005 statistics. This is just a personal preference, you're welcome to disagree there, but for me causing an even *slight* headache for the head coach/quarterback is an extremely large negative due to their much larger effects on team success.

43 Why are you using games started?

Who uses games started for a bar?

So AB having more total yardz despite less games started is a bad thing???? You love randomly cutting off important things because...this thing happened therefore everything else is bad (but only this one arbitrary season, as if nothing happened the season before or after, no in between)? 

Such a headache for Arians...they won they the...SB. Yeah I don't care for making up things and assuming things based on limited info. 

This whole thing of, "I would never use off field antics to discredit on field accomplishments" is why I hate such lies. Yall CLEARLY care about the off field stuff (ok fine whatever) BUT ya randomly make it fit the narrative that it HEAVILY influenced on field for the NEGATIVE.

Throw away the league leading 15 TDs and PB because obviously they were bad because AB berated Tomlin enough that he messed up other decisions like...with what proof? Ugh. Stoooooop. Just say you don't want selfish dudes that cause controversy in and be done with it.

46 Who uses games started for a…

Who uses games started for a bar?

Me. It's a proxy for how valuable the coach considered the player and how much he was helped by other people on the team. It's also not a "bar" for me, just a point of consideration. I just don't know how to compare WRs who play completely different positions. It's just totally different to be the sole receiving option on a team versus the help that Brown had some years (

 (but only this one arbitrary season, as if nothing happened the season before or after, no in between)? 

That's why I said it's arguable that '20 should be included. In my mind it doesn't really help that much - that team was so stacked WR-wise that it's extremely surprising Brown didn't do better.

Just say you don't want selfish dudes that cause controversy in and be done with it.

No, I just put a very high value on team chemistry. Seen too many teams totally and completely collapse when talent-wise there was no reason for it to discount it.

If the PFHoF was allowed to take into account off-field stuff Brown (and many others) would absolutely have no chance. As it is he's borderline for me, leaning towards no due to the career length. Calvin Johnson was also borderline for me, too.

But I also totally recognize that my opinion's quite different than Hall voters. Which is fine. I mean, I don't have a problem with people insisting AB has to be in, either, although I don't understand how the heck you could put him in and, say, Kevin Williams isn't even a finalist yet.

50 Pretty awful proxy

So even though a player comes off the bench and puts up 102 yards or 93 and a score, there's no value and you throw it out completely? My GOODNESS. Oh, sorry you just value it "less" so much less, that it doesn't affect anything and makes you ignore Bob Hayes starting less. And still not touching the Alworth example who started less than CJ.

The team missed the playoffs because he...maybe yelled at Tomlin all season and...scored 15 TDs? Youre literally the only one here that's gonna pretend to discount like that. Oh and it caused by...something off the field! Wow! Never affects your opinion though. 

Was perfect from 10-17. Benched for one game = problem the whole next season. Was an angel 😇 in 19 though. But back to a whole season of unknown toxicity in 20. Then back to angel 😇 in 21.

😆 can't make this up. The hoops you're jumping through man to act like ABs career was that short. 

66 Selective reading!

Here's the rest you skipped:

"that it doesn't affect anything and makes you ignore Bob Hayes starting less. And still not touching the Alworth example who started less than CJ.

The team missed the playoffs because he...maybe yelled at Tomlin all season and...scored 15 TDs? Youre literally the only one here that's gonna pretend to discount like that. Oh and it caused by...something off the field! Wow! Never affects your opinion though. 

Was perfect from 10-17. Benched for one game = problem the whole next season. Was an angel 😇 in 19 though. But back to a whole season of unknown toxicity in 20. Then back to angel 😇 in 21.

😆 can't make this up. The hoops you're jumping through man to act like ABs career was that short."

Just admit you were wrong. Throwing out entire seasons because it doesn't fit your narrative.

Classic pat.

79 I didn't reference them…

I didn't reference them because it was irrelevant.

I do not believe Brown *should* be a Hall of Famer. Just like I don't believe Johnson should have been first ballot. I have no opinion on Hayes and others because I haven't seen them play, and I don't believe you can judge a Hall case from numbers. Hayes being in the Hall doesn't make me judge Brown by those standards.

I believe Brown *will* be a Hall of Famer because the voters do take numbers very seriously. More seriously than me.

I think Brown hurt the team significantly in '18. You don't. I think he was helped early in his career by the other Pittsburgh WRs. You don't.

That's fine. I can understand how you come to those opinions, and you're welcome to them. The difference is that you don't seem to think anyone else is, and that's the last I'll say.

82 "I haven't seen them play,"

Good thing there's tape. Apparently you didn't see 18 AB either, because I want you to point the specific points in which he hurt them on the field and reconcile that with how he actually did.

Then point to specific areas in which "he was helped early in his career by the other Pittsburgh WRs." All while showing how it's different from any other WR.

You're tossing everything out the window because of unquantifiables. That's a cop out as it allows you to believe whatever you want. Your distraction argument borders on justifying Kaep being blackballed. Your extrapolating off field things into weird, blatantly and objectively wrong, statements like his career was short but it's still justifiable for Alworth and CJ, literal shorter careers, to be in because they took the first couple of snaps of more games. 

127 Of course I'm tossing out…

Of course I'm tossing out statistics for unquantifiables. Dead on. 100%. Guilty. Said this multiple times. I put huge weight on unquantifiables for the Hall of Fame. Numbers are too easy for me. For everyone, not just Brown. I have an epically low opinion on McNabb, for instance, *way* lower than most. And no, CJ and Alworth don't prove hypocrisy or anything: I'm *super* marginal on CJ and don't consider Alworth or dead ball era or earlier guys to have played the same position.

You're welcome to put zero weight in unquantifiables. Have a blast. It's totally valid. I get it. And I think the Hall voters are closer to you than me. I wouldn't have put in CJ, definitely not yet. But again, the difference is that I'm able to respect others' opinions, and you are not.

129 You're alone

Good thing there's tape. Apparently you didn't see 18 AB either, because I want you to point the specific points in which he hurt them on the field and reconcile that with how he actually did.

So...no proof.

Then point to specific areas in which "he was helped early in his career by the other Pittsburgh WRs." All while showing how it's different from any other WR.

No proof again. 

You're tossing everything out the window because of unquantifiables. That's a cop out as it allows you to believe whatever you want. Your distraction argument borders on justifying Kaep being blackballed. Your extrapolating off field things into weird, blatantly and objectively wrong, statements like his career was short but it's still justifiable for Alworth and CJ, literal shorter careers, to be in because they took the first couple of snaps of more games. 

And you're still objectively wrong about career length. 

Good talk. Can't wait to discuss how you don't think Rodgers is a HOFr because he threw a tablet. Or how Kyle Allen is because he didn't get any help but was loved by teammates. Good stuff in good faith.

130 Of course I don't have proof…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Of course I don't have proof for those things. They're observations based on how teammates talked about him. Just like I don't have "proof" regarding McNabb.

I have a different definition of career length than you do. I understand yours and you're welcome to it. I simply do not agree.

"Can't wait to discuss how you don't think Rodgers is a HOFr because he threw a tablet."

Straw man.

140 Annoying

You're observations are objectively incorrect and twisted. He got benched for one game (that showed his value but whatever) and you extrapolate it into an entire season issue and decide to throw one of his starting seasons out. What a coincidence it fits into your other stupid proven wrong narrative. Throw out entire games because someone isn't "valuable" enough to take just the very first snap. You probably think the Kendall Hinton game is actually the Phillip Lindsay game. 

Absolutely nonsense. But that's what you get for doubling down on dumb things like "not long enough career but these literal shorter careers (in every sense: ringz, AP1s, PBs, total yardz, oh wait we have to wipe half of those games because reasonz!!) are fine" which makes everything a straw man. If someone abruptly retires after starting their career with 7 straight MVPs but missing the first snap of each game you're gonna runaround saying it wasn't long enough and pointing to their HS coach saying they didn't like them and therefore those MVPs aren't real and thus no HOF.

2022 and using games started...for a WR! Beyond obtuse. The games you weirdos will play to justify your (awful) ability to separate on and off field behaviors.

45 He might have gotten the…

He might have gotten the Isaac Bruce/Torry Holt treatment -- being a receiver for the Greatest Show on Turf has attracted a bunch of voter scorn. But the best season by a guy who gets no serious Hall credit is Herman Moore, so it's not like being a Lion does anything useful for your Hall claim.

\what's Charley Hennigan's deal? Is it just spending your career on a semi-forgotten team in a nascent league back when the AFL was not nearly as good as the NFL?

26 That's why I discount 2018…

That's why I discount 2018 as well. Sure, Brown had a good year statistically - but the Steelers had limited success that year and the fact that it got so bad they benched him (and then traded him) just clinches it. How much better would the Steelers have been if he wasn't throwing tantrums?

34 The 2018 Steelers

Brown being a malcontent was pretty far down the list of things wrong with that team.  And even with all that, if refs don't invent a pass interference call on Joe Haden against the Saints, they make the playoffs having beaten NE and @NO in consecutive weeks with a lot of "team on the rise" buzz and everyone plays nice for a few more weeks.

40 Yeah, you're perfectly…

Yeah, you're perfectly welcome to your opinion on that team. I just don't share it - I have a very strong opinion that distractions for the head coach/QB/execs cause a lot more problems than you necessarily see on the field.

101 And all that time I was…

And all that time I was Tomlin isnt a great gameday coach, a poor tactician and a time management buffoon, but at least he's a leader of men, motivator and yadayada... I guess for anyone but AB, and Bell. 

119 This. Tomlin's a very player…

This. Tomlin's a very player-friendly coach, and he's benched guys since (Claypool, Johnson) but the AB thing was just totally different. Tomlin was very measured in his response when talking about him this week, not trying to downplay the end at all and totally dismissing any possible return. Just a huge difference between that and, say, Owens/Reid, where TO apparently still has his phone number.

In my opinion Owens was held out for a few years just because the voters (media members) disliked him (said 'anti-TO bloc'). But Brown might be held out for longer because I think both coaches, players, and media dislike him.

31 It's hard to figure out how…

It's hard to figure out how much affect he had on 2018 but considering Tamp lost a close game last year it's easy to imagine AB having an effect. 

60 Steelers Drafting Receivers

I don't care at all about who does or doesn't get into the HOF. I do want to put a different slant on the Steelers' draft myth.

The edge rushers they drafted in the past were enabled by them being one of only a very few teams that ran a 3-4 defense. That reduced the demand for a certain body type and the Steelers drafted a rusher every year.

The current receiver success I put to Tomlin's college career as a receiver and his coaching abilities, particularly his ability to "push buttons."

71 TO and AB are not that close

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/O/OwenTe00.htm

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/B/BrowAn04.htm

AB SUMMARY Career

146

AV 112

Rec 928

Yds 12291

Y/R 13.2

TD 83

TO SUMMARY Career

219 (+73)

AV 167 (+55)

Rec 1078 (+150)

Yds 15934 (+3643)

Y/R 14.8 (+1.6)

TD 153 (+ an entire NFL career worth)

 

TO did this while playing the majority of his career prior to the modernization of the passing game.

AB played ALL of his career after the modernization.

72 The comp wasn't statistically,

(although raw totalz isn't always the way, of course naturally TO should have more, he played more!)

it was being a controversial (HOF level) WR...

...and how people twist into "on-field" ;) hard to see here though but...he's not the best ever. Huh, not so hard actually. 

SMH.

80 That's why Mike said Brown's…

That's why Mike said Brown's not nearly as qualified a candidate.

I also think Owens's "transgressions" mainly were against the media and one player (McNabb) who ended up with a generally bad opinion around the league anyway (DeSean Jackson had choice words for him, for instance). Coaches and other players had very solid opinions of Owens.

I don't think the same is true about Brown, which could have more influence on his candidacy because they do talk to those guys. It does for me, but who knows re: the voters.

136 This is brushing past the…

This is brushing past the issues that got him to Philly in the first place and then the mess that followed at his destination after Philly.

I think when the same player has issues with three completely different orgs, I think it more than infers where the problems are.

Which is why the AB comparison has more than just legs.

 

 

 

137 No, the big difference with…

No, the big difference with Owens is that his "issues" with those teams didn't lead to him leaving. He left the 49ers because he contractually could, but his agent effed the paperwork. The 49ers realized they'd probably lose that case on appeal (the date was changed for some subset of players, so there was a reasonable argument to be made) and decided to get something out of it by trading him. Then finagling and dealing happened. He'd been "causing problems" with the 49ers since 2000 but they always kept him on. If they could've kept him past 2003, I bet they would've. They just didn't have a choice.

He left the Eagles due to money, which was entirely fair because he got effed on the contract in the first place due to missing proper free agency. And he left Dallas due to the fact that his production was declining (he was 35!) and he wasn't worth the "issues" anymore.

Owens's behavior absolutely was a headache for teams. That's totally true and that's a fair comparison. But it never rose to the point where teams didn't want him anymore. There were always other reasons why he ended up leaving. That's what I was trying to say. In Brown's case the issues were always the reasons the teams didn't want him anymore and then finally no teams did.

 

138 I think your summary…

I think your summary undersells just how much he clashed with every head coach and every quarterback. And while the primary stated reason for his eagles issues were monetary, more than enough digging showed divisive behaviors motivated by the same me first habits that dogged him everywhere he went.

I agree, ABs transgressions are worse, but his pattern of behavior has dogged him everywhere he has gone in much the same ways as TO. Even after everything he had done and off the field, he too kept getting chances. In fact, it's not even clear he's officially never coming back. I bet if he was still in his prime, someone would sign him.

139 Not trying to undersell that…

Not trying to undersell that at all. There's just a difference, to me, between being an annoyance (which is still not good) and being so bad that the team actively gets rid of you. I think the issues with Owens were blown up a little out of proportion, and with Brown I think they were understated.

73 In his 9 seasons in…

In his 9 seasons in Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown had 4 first-team All-Pros, which is more than any of the WRs mentioned as comparable (Andre Johnson had 2, Julio Jones 2, DeAndre Hopkins 3, Calvin Johnson 3). He had 6 seasons as a Pro Bowl WR, original selection (his 4 All-Pro years plus 2 more). I won't bother to look up which years were original selections for the comps, but they each had 5-7 total Pro Bowls (5 for Hopkins, 6 for Calvin, 7 each for the Joneses). And his character/off-field issues didn't get in the way of his team's ability to compete (as far as I know).

That seems like a HOF career to me - best WR in the NFL for a 4-year stretch, and up there for longer.

His raw totals for his 9 years in PIT are also very similar to Calvin's 9 years in DET:

11326 YFS & 74 TDs in 130g for AB
11786 YFS & 84 TDs in 135g for CJ

So 460 yards & 10 TDs short, in 5 fewer games. If you include playoff games, it's:

12181 YFS & 78 TDs in 140g for AB
12082 YFS & 86 TDs in 137g for CJ

So 99 more yards & 8 fewer TDs in 3 more games. AB also had some return value, with 5 return TDs, which cuts that touchdown gap if you include them. (Also adds an early career Pro Bowl as a returner.)

His departure from Pittsburgh & post-PIT years were... odd. That's where the character/off-field stuff hit big. But unlike with TO, that didn't interfere with the bulk of his career. He did play well when he was on the field but unclear how much value he added or subtracted from teams on net. He didn't add much to his career stats after PIT, since he only appeared in 16 games over those 3 years (plus another 3 playoff games).

78 I said it above, but it may…

I said it above, but it may make more sense here. 

Torry Holt  An 8 year finalist may be the best comp. He has a bit more career stats and AB has a bit more black ink but their totals and HOFm score are similar, both have 7 pb and a ring. 

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HoltTo00.htm

81 Adding on

Which is why the Andre Johnson comp was also pretty disingenuous as AB has double the AP1s. Which is a lot because they're hard to come by. Which is also, with what many call, at like worst, 2nd greatest WR ever in Moss and he got in 1st ballot (not saying his is Moss or better). There might be a gap there people are missing of just wanting (a lot of) fluff for fluff sake. 

HOFm has him above the average which only Julio can say he's above as well. Andre, Nuk and CJ are (well) below them right now. But he bests all 4 in All Purpose yards which...

his return ability should be sufficient evidence he wasn't solely a product of a Pitts offense (and their defensive HC and rotating OCs of Bruce Arians, Todd Haley, Randy Fichtner). 

 But unlike with TO, that didn't interfere with the bulk of his career. 

The only thing I disagree on. As pointed out right above, hard to see any actual interference. Yeah, beefs were in his prime but...he still produced in spite of it. So...the alternative is saying he somehow hurt his production/impact which, uh, would make his theoretical production by far insane? Or maybe they would've won a SB without his antics. But wait, the Bucs won a SB with AB after his antics...hmm yeah this is my problem. 

He did play well when he was on the field but unclear how much value he added or subtracted from teams on net.

And people assume it's wholly negative and manifests it's way in unquantifiable ways (ok acceptable) but then they turn around and throw out the good, onlycompletely and utterly. I'm just not down for that. People are fluid. I'm not throwing out 2018 because he got into a fight with Big Ben (another assaulter!) and skipped practices. That showed he wasn't skipping practice before or beefing (that much) with Ben before that week. It blew up at the end of the season and he was benched in the middle of the playoff run. That doesn't mean he didn't provide value before going off on Ben over whatever! We don't need to retroactively think that those 15 touchdowns are actually worth 0, or worse! He helped the first15 games then didn't the last. Shouldn't be extrapolated beyond that. He wasn't the only one with problems that season (Ben hating Rudolph and calling out others, Leveon situation, hmmm maybe Pitt is toxic?)

I'd be completely fine with not wanting an assaulter in but people are taking it too far to say it manifests it self on the field as often as it did. Which just isn't true. It took AB almost 8 years, after his prime/right at the tail end of it, before we knew the disgusting things. Lets not extrapolate it into his entire playing time on the field and make THAT the reason he shouldn't get in.

It's COMPLETELY alright to say Tyrer isn't in because of his murder suicide, which is example #1 of something that is UNDENIABLY off field, coming after his retirement AND affecting the voters. We don't have to make up excuses for the voters along the lines of, "well those KC teams were stacked and Tyrer wasn't that good actually!" Or, with Darren Sharper, example #2. It's 100% clear off field is taken into account, lets just stop lying about it not and be ok that it's a hard mix of both and separating them is...hard! Same for other entertainment things like R Kelly.

/end rant.

84 AB won a ring as basically a…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

AB won a ring as basically a WR3 on the Bucs (WR4, if you treat Gronk as a receiver). He was slightly less important to the Bucs than OBJ was to the Rams.

Certainly, the Pats didn't suffer any for cutting him in 2019, either.

It's disingenuous to say AB should be in because Moss and TO are in. Moss was nowhere near as disruptive to teams as AB and TO didn't get disinvited from as many. And both were much, much better receivers. For Moss and TO, their negative perceptions were the sole variable that could have kept them out of the Hall, or delayed their entry. There were firmly in on performance (#2 and #5 on HOFm -- I think that inflates TO some, but feels right for Moss).

AB is borderline on performance. He could go either way. And being a cancerous asshole who bailed on or was outright fired by four of the more influential coaches in the league today (basically, he only avoided pissing off Andy Reid) and stabbing two popular HOF QBs in the back isn't going to do him any favors.

Frankly, I think we resolve the situation by putting Steve Smith and AB in a room, and the guy who walks out goes to the Hall of Fame.

87 AB was first on the Bucs in targets per game in 2020

But apparently ringz only count if you have the most catches. Or maybe antics aren't as extrapolated as people that lean on unquantifiables, want them to be. 

It's disingenuous to say AB should be in because Moss and TO are in. Moss was nowhere near as disruptive to teams as AB and TO didn't get disinvited from as many. And both were much, much better receivers.

Good thing I never said otherwise. But I did say yall wanted fluff for fluff sake.

Just stop beating around the bush say you don't want him in personally and stop pretending it has anything to do with his on field prime that was better than CJs best 6 year stretch. The entire point of the post. I dread the incoming wisecrack. 

107 Moss was nowhere near as…

Moss was nowhere near as disruptive to teams as AB and TO didn't get disinvited from as many. And both were much, much better receivers.

I don't think this is quite true - prime AB was up there with both of those guys. What I would say is that AB's disruptive arc overlaps much less with his best years compared to TO or Moss. Both of the latter two had multiple excellent years after leaving their original team, while AB didn't. So in a lot of ways its easier to mark the disruption against AB than Moss or TO, because it mostly didn't coincide with HoF-worthy football.

For me, setting aside non-football-related things, the peak is high and long enough that he's HoF worthy. As somebody said elsewhere in the thread, "Best [X] in the league for multiple years" is a pretty good indicator. But I certainly understand people like Mike who hold the locker room stuff against him as well.

83 "And his character/off-field…

"And his character/off-field issues didn't get in the way of his team's ability to compete (as far as I know)."

He got benched / shipped out of town REPEATEDLY.  It wasn't a problem until it was a problem?  In football you've got owners going to Godell and begging that you not suspend their above average but not HOF RB for too many games after he was caught on tape damn near murdering his GF. 

That's what is tolerated for talent.

But AB managed to be such a PITA that 4 teams - four! - dumped him.  And no one has signed him now.  The remaining 28 have all said "Nah, we're good."

 

 

85 In terms of crazy WRs, I had…

In terms of crazy WRs, I had totally forgotten that Marvin Harrison shot a guy, who would later turn up with a bad case of lead poisoning.

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2008/report-marvin-harrison-investigated-shooting-outside-bar

I actually ran into him a little while after this. My wife and I were out as a downtown Philadelphia restaurant and at this enormous table next to us was a pretty ripped black guy, who looked familiar for a reason I couldn't place, in an expensive suit surrounded by 11 smaller white dudes who were clearly yes-men. About halfway through dinner I realized he was Marvin Harrison, I assume meeting with his legal team. Marvin was from Philly. I figured it was best not to bother him.

91 That whole story is so…

That whole story is so mysterious. Despite Marvin being such a high profile player, the dude was practically an enigma. But I always thought of him as a less charismatic Peyton Manning of wide receivers. And then you read the whole story about it and it just makes you even more confused. 

I've always wanted to meet Marvin Harrison. I settled for Anthony Gonzalez. 

89 about Brown

If Brown's career had ended after the 2017 season, we wouldn't be having that debate.  His career numbers and positional dominance in the first eight seasons of his career would be enough to ensure a Hall of Fame invite.

So, the question is whether he managed to actually move backwards in his last four seasons.  Or, to be more precise, his last three seasons and his shenanigans at the end of the 2018 season.  It is an interesting question.  Tanier brings up a reasonable point that Brown left his teams in the lurch: both in Pittsburgh and in Tampa, by walking out on them at crucial points in the season.  

I don't see the comparison to TO to be on the mark.  TO, for all his vitriol and outbursts, never let his teammates down.  Indeed, he was the best player on the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX (I say this as a Patriots' fan) - had the Eagles won that day, he'd have gotten Super Bowl MVP consideration.  Randy Moss is a better comparison for how he quit on the Raiders, but he redeemed himself in subsequent years.

AB just went batshit.   Clearly something is seriously wrong with his neurology at this point.  I suspect CTE is playing a role in his behavior swings.  But does that mean voters should ignore what he's done?  I don't think so.

I don't have a particularly strong opinion here.  Statistically he's a slam dunk inductee.  I think he's far ahead of the Andre Johnson's out there.  He's more like the Fitzgerald level, but with mental illness thrown in.  But if the voters don't like his candidacy based on his late-career prima donna behavior (not to mention his off-the-field misogyny), I would hardly object.

 

93 Brown's career is so…

In reply to by RickD

Brown's career is so different than Fitzgerald's that it's hard to use them as comps for each other.

AB had a meteoric career with dizzying highs and terrifying lows, for a premier franchise, and who spent his entire career playing for 1st ballot QBs.

Larry Fitzgerald was the steadiest WR since Jerry Rice and is basically a Steve Largent with better endurance, and has spent a career wandering in the desert catching passes from guys who would go on to be decent TEs. The best QB he played for was either the corpse of Carson Palmer or the dying flames of Kurt Warner.

117 Comparing AB to Larry…

Comparing AB to Larry Fitzgerald is like comparing Steve Young to Aaron Rodgers. Not sure it really gets you anywhere.  I would go Warner for the end, but YMMV. 

AB is a a weird case in that he would be a slam dunk if people liked him, but considering he's likely to get tepid endorsements at best it's hard to see how it goes.  He probably gets stuck on the ballot for a few years but eventually gets in. 

 

90 One of your best

Mike, I've been following you for many years, and this is one of your best pieces of writing.  Direct, thoughtful, forceful, even-handed, heartfelt.  Bravo.

Ravens fan here.  There was a period there where Antonio Brown was absolutely uncoverable.  And it went on for years.  Put very good defenders on him, and he would just shake-&-bake them and get open.  It was remarkable.  You could not keep him out of the end zone after-the-catch, either – although that coincides with an era when the Ravens D was blowing leads, so the sour fan in me is tempted to discount that.  His ascendancy came during the Ravens weakest down-period this century, post- Super Bowl and pre- Lamar; even pre- Marlon Humphrey for the most part.  But Brown was torching everyone, not just the Ravens.  I see from PFR that he's on the All-2010s team, and was Offensive POY one time, which I had forgotten.

And then he went crazy. 

I have wondered if Brown is a CTE case.  He feels like one.  The mood swings & impulse control & aberrant behavior, and the suddenness with which that stuff seemed to manifest.  He was a fairly solid citizen up to about 2017, right?

i understand your point that Doctor Twitter's medical credentials are shaky.  But it makes a difference to me, if (a) Brown was always an undermining team cancer who even Tomlin could barely keep a lid on, or if (b) Brown was about normal for a great WR until he got one too many pieces of head trauma around ~2017 and lost his shit.  His Hall résumé is his work in Pittsburgh up to 2018.  If something happened to him to trigger “behavior problems” near the end of that period, and his early & peak years were free of those problems, then I'd be inclined to excuse his later conduct on the grounds of diminished capacity.  Basically a late-career injury, but to his brain.

We can't know, unfortunately.  Short of a tragedy and an autopsy, anyway: would be nice if someone developed a blood test for CTE markers.

If I were a Hall voter, I would want to dig into Brown's career 2011-16 with teammates & coaches.  Was he “normal” then, or was there disruptive behavior that didn't make it into the news?  Did his personality seem to change?  Fairly suddenly around 2017?

I could go either way on Brown.  I think the Steelers of 2013-17 were mostly a disappointment, a hugely talented team on offense that never seemed quite disciplined enough or purposeful enough to put it all together.  There was a lot of media psychoanalysis back then, about whether Roethlisberger was “the problem” or whatever.  If Brown really was “the problem”, or part of it, along the lines of his famous later-year behavior, then that's important.

94 I have wondered if Brown is…

In reply to by JimZipCode

I have wondered if Brown is a CTE case.  He feels like one.  The mood swings & impulse control & aberrant behavior, and the suddenness with which that stuff seemed to manifest.  He was a fairly solid citizen up to about 2017, right?

He kept a lid on the crazy until 2017, but the pot was simmering for awhile.

He started to openly go round the twist in 2017, but the full timeline indicates these weren't new traits, just more exaggerated versions of old behavior. There's a reason he had to walk on at CMU and wasn't loved by the scouts, and it had a lot to do with why he got expelled from the one school that offered a scholarship and why he didn't graduate HS on time, and why he got kicked out by his family.

https://www.foxnews.com/sports/antonio-browns-timeline-of-drama
https://andscape.com/features/steelers-antonio-brown-is-an-instagram-all-pro-but-is-that-the-full-picture/
https://deadspin.com/stop-blaming-vontaze-burfict-for-antonio-browns-idiocy-1848302571 

Central Michigan is the apparently the only team he's been on who didn't ask him to not return.

128 Quite frankly, I think it's…

Quite frankly, I think it's very likely that EVERY NFL player* who has played significant snaps, OR played significant snaps in college, is probably a CTE case.  

Sadly... 

 

(* the word "player" in this context excludes punters, kickers, and long snappers).  

96 Edelman

Mike, what *is* it with you and Julian Edelman?  You seem to have made it a personal crusade that Edelman doesn’t belong in the Hall, and you keep bringing it up in every article you write.

Thing is, I haven’t heard any rational person arguing that Edelman deserves to be in. (Granted, the “rational” qualifier excludes most local beat writers). I’m as big a Pats fan as any and I don’t think he deserves to be in. Heck, Julian Edelman has said that Julian Edelman doesn’t deserve to be in. 

But the little contrarian demon on your left shoulder seems to be constantly whispering in your ear that you are all that stands against armies of Edelman boosters…

97 He's higher on the list than…

In reply to by MJK

He's higher on the list than you might think.

His best comps might be two 49ers receivers -- Dwight Clark and John Taylor.

104 Simple

In reply to by MJK

If you have read Tanier, it is simple.  Strike 1: he was a Patriot.  Strike 2:  he caught passes from Brady.  Strike 3:  he was coached by Belichek.  Three strikes and you are out.

105 I could see a non-ridiculous…

In reply to by MJK

I could see a non-ridiculous argument being made for Edelman. To the hall, clearly postseason success matters 3, 5, 20? x that off regular season numbers. And there is a real chance the Pats will be viewed as having been light on Hall of Famers for their second dynasty, which seems to be limited to Brady, Gronk, and possibly Hightower once its all said and done. That's usually when arguments for lineman and complimentary receivers starts to take hold. 

108 It's not ridiculous that we…

It's not ridiculous that we'd look at Edelman and ask the question.  I just don't think very many impartial people, when all is said and done, would answer the question "Yes" after appropriate consideration.  And as a result, Tanier's constant sniping about Edelman hypothetical candidacy doesn't make sense.  

(I know he probably means it as a running joke, but it would only be funny if a lot of people were calling for it, and I haven't really seen that).

I would rather see more players from the Pats first dynasty get enshrined than try to pad the count from their second dynasty.  I'd rather see Rodney Harrison and/or Vince Wilfork enshrined over someone like Hightower or Edelman.  (I think Hightower is the second dynasty version of Bruschi in that "every town has its linebacker").  It's not even clear that Edelman is more deserving than his predecessors... Wes Welker or Troy Brown. 

If you wanted to find more HoF'ers in the Pats second dynasty, I actually think looking at the linemen might be the more natural place to look.  The HoF needs more linemen more than it needs more WR's anyway...

 

110 I kind of agree and disagree…

I kind of agree and disagree at the same time with respect to Edelman. 

But first, I do think perhaps controversially that Pats don't deserve that many hall of famers, either from their first or second go round. Forgoing guys like Revis, Seau, or Moss - all dude's who were going to the hall of fame even if their NE tenures were vaporized; the only no brainers were/are Brady, BB, Law, and Gronk. 

I think Harrison deserves it too, but I seem to be the minority. The majority though, including their linemen, were very good or just good players bolstered by scheme and coaching and the prodigious talent of their QB. I don't want to throw shade on guys like Bruischi, Vrable, or Hightower - good players but not irreplaceable cogs. I could also see an argument for Wilfork, but the hall typically doesn't reward run first stoppers. 

As to Edelman; I do think he wasn't just a pluggable cog in the whirring NE Machine. I realize he is very scheme dependent - probably useless on almost every other team. But still, he was the epitome of the top of the line smurf receiver in Ne's endless short throwing, option route offense. And there were countless testimonials about how much of a pain in the ass he was to cover.

As someone who rooted hard against NE; Edelman legitimately annoyed and scaried me.  

 

113 Welker's quite a way ahead…

Welker's quite a way ahead of Edelman. About 50% ahead.

In short, Edelman is about the floor for consideration for the Hall of Very Good. Welker is around the floor for consideration for the Hall of Fame. Welker was on teams with Moss and Gronk and was outperforming both. He's a distant, distant candidate, but his claim isn't completely crazy.

 

115 Agree when it comes to raw…

Agree when it comes to raw skill.  Line Welker up in one slot and Edelman up in the other, and don't roll coverage to either of them preferentially, and Welker will get open way more often than Edelman.  

The place where the HoF argument maybe swings against Welker and more towards Edelman, in my mind (though I don't think either meets the bar for *yet another* WR in the Hall), is iconic playoff moments.  Edelman's most iconic playoff moment is, arguably, either his version of the "helmet catch" during the 28-3 comeback vs Atlanta in the SB, or possibly his TD throw to Amendola vs the Ravens.

Welker's most iconic playoff moment is having a relatively easy catch clang of his hands late in the 4th in the second SB vs the Giants... a catch that, had he caught it, likely would have cemented another SB win and an avenging of the lost perfect season.  

120 While I don't think Welker…

While I don't think Welker or Edelman will get in the hall of fame, welker might make a ballot at least. 

I think the interesting thing with the Pats is I can see Belichick giving some sort of strong endorsement to one or two defenders to get them in like what happened with Hornung. "XYZ made the defence work " or something. Not sure who, but I can see it. 

132 "relatively easy catch"

Ye gods, Welker had to rotate 270 degrees just to get a hand on the ball!  That was not a "relatively easy" catch.  If he'd had globs of Stickum on his hands, maybe.  But fans don't seem to appreciate the physics involved here.  Touching a ball is not remotely close to catching a ball.

And yes, Welker takes an absurd amount of blame for that one Super Bowl loss, a game in which the Pats' secondary was terrible and the Giants #3 WR had no problem getting open when he needed to.  

The flip side is that Edelman has numerous big catches in Super Bowl wins.  That's why Pats' fans love Edelman and disrespect Welker, even though Welker was clearly the better WR on the whole.  The guy made 1st team All-Pro as a slot receiver! 

135 Back shoulder?

My recollection is that Brady tossed the ball somewhat softly for a pass that traveled 25-30 yards in the air, so Welker had a fair amount of time to adjust.  He looked wide open, but if Brady had thrown the ball a few yards to the right, the defender might've made a play on it.  IIRC, postgame Welker said he catches that pass 99 times out of 100.  Despite the needed turn, he got both hands on the ball, not just fingertips.  However, the best receivers have occasional drops.  I think it was him who dropped a much easier pass in a PS game against the Jags, the one in which Brady was 26-of-28 in a Pats win. (And Norwood was a pretty good kicker, but that's not how we remember him.)

109 I think it's because Edelman…

In reply to by MJK

I think it's because Edelman profiles as the type of guy everybody knows doesn't belong, but he somehow has a chance to get in, anyway. I mean, The Pats were dominant for 2 decades, and only Brady, Gronk, Moss, Ty Law, and Bellichick are in or are locks get there...but between Moss making his bones elsewhere and Ty Law only barely overlapping the end of his career with the beginning of the Pats' run, there's really only three and half HOF players plus a coach from what was the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL. So you go looking for borderline cases like Mankins, Wilfork, Viniaterri, or Ghostkowski. But the role of "make sure this great dynasty is sufficiently honored" is usually filled by players whose contributions in important games can be remembered, and DTs and guards are rarely remembered, which brings us to...Julian Edelman? Troy Brown? FWIW, I think Mankins and Viniaterri are worthy candidates, but I doubt they're more likely to be enshrined than Edelman.

111 You left off Seymour, who…

You left off Seymour, who was inducted this past year.

I actually think Vinateri is a lock.  He's probably one of the most famous kickers ever and has top career stats, lots of playoff appearances, ringz, iconic moments, and name recognition. 

I agree Mankins is a worthy candidate, but guards rarely get serious consideration. I think Wilfork absolutely deserves to be in, but the Hall has to rectify the Williams snub first.  And I think Rodney Harrison deserves a long hard conversation.  

I think guys like Hightower, Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Edelman, and Tedy Bruschi all fall into the "it's not silly to ask the question, but most people will come to an answer of "no" after fair consideration" category.

Kickers just aren't that important in the scheme of things, so as good as Gostkowski was, unless your name is Vinateri or possibly Tucker, you're not getting in if you're a kicker.

114 Punters have like zero…

Punters have like zero chance. Lechler was considerably better than Ray Guy, and he is barely acknowledged to have existed.

Kickers have a chance. Vinatieri I think is in (he has won too many SBs with kicks) and Tucker has a pretty solid chance. Gostkowski needs to keep on for about another ten years.

118 Lechler was considerably…

Lechler was considerably better than Ray Guy, and he is barely acknowledged to have existed.

Guy was inducted into the Hall in 2014 via the senior committee 3 years after his eligibility expired after never having made it to the finalist stage (so 28 years). That's practically a Golden Ticket. The media never considered his case serious, but the senior committee absolutely did.

Given the fact that (as you said) Lechler's significantly better, I think there's a very high chance he's in. Which I hate, but that's a totally separate discussion.

125 I think it depends on the…

I think it depends on the rest of the class honestly and there is the whole "well, we know he's getting in, so might as well get it over with" and it's not like there are other kickers waiting. The only lock who retired the same year as him is Brees.  

133 Hightower >> Bruschi

Hightower was the captain of the defense that won 3 Super Bowls, and he made huge plays in all three of those wins.  Let's not forget he was the one who stopped Lynch in an open field tackle one play before Butler's INT.  And he had a huge sack of Matt Ryan that knocked the Falcons out of FG range during the Comeback.  

Hightower should get more than casual consideration.  As should Wilfork.  I think they should both get in.  

Rodney Harrison compares favorably to Troy Polamalu, but everybody loved the Steeler with the great hair, while Rodney had the reputation for dirty play even before his PED suspension.  He should get in, but he won't.

Oh, and Justin Tucker is a lock.  

112 Mankins is an interesting…

Mankins is an interesting case. His resume is pretty strong; and yet by coincidence, his career overlaps during the "fallow" period of the Pats dynasty; effectively running from the day after they won their 3rd superbowl to the season before their 4th SB. In that way, his career doesn't earn that endearing send off the way Wilfork's did. 

I am also a bit torn on NE linemen. Not only did Brady help them, but Scar's presence had a lot to do with their competency as well. Maybe that's unfair to Mankins, but everytime NE rolled out a bunch of unknowns at the line and it never bit them in the ass except for a few times and in the most inopportune times. That stupid NE o line excellence is one of the great unsung triumphs of the NE dynasty. That along with special teams and their wanton ability to ignore pass rush. 

116 It's a bit disappointing…

It's a bit disappointing that assistant coaches don't get HoF spots... because if they did, Scar would definitely deserve one.  I think he's arguably the second most responsible person for the Patriots' two dynasties, after Belichick (and ahead of, or at least tied with, Brady, but I'm sure I'm in a minority there).  

And it's true that their ability to take [random UDFA lineman] and make them into an upper tier starter, and then see said lineman perform significantly poorer whereever their next big free agent contract brought them, does put a serious knock on the HoF argument for any Pats lineman.  

124 Totally agree on Scar. He…

Totally agree on Scar. He deserves a mini-bust next to Belichick at the very least. I said this in another post, but I suspect Belichick may give an endorsement to one or two linemen puts them over the top. Most fans don't really know enough to be able to tell who is awesome unless they are racking up sacks or something

106 Even without the luggage…

Even without the luggage carrier worth of baggage, I would put Antonio Brown's HoF case behind Hopkins and especially Julio Jones.  AB was a very good receiver on a very good offense for quite a while.  But Hopkins *was* his team's offense, for many years, and even knowing that he was the only weapon on those teams, Hopkins still put up big numbers.  Steelers had enough other weapons (they were called the Killer B's, plural, for a reason) so that I'm less impressed by his numbers versus Hopkins'.

And as for Jones, this is purely an anecdotal argument, which is of course dangerous, but I keep coming back to the Patriots playing Pittsburgh and then Atlanta in quick succession in the playoffs.  If I recall correctly, New England single covered Brown man to man (by Malcolm Butler, I think?  A good but not great man to man CB) and rolled their defense to everyone else, and Brown had a rather pedestrian game, the rest of the Steelers did little, and the Steelers lost.  Then, two weeks later in the SB, the Patriots rolled their entire defense to taking Julio Jones away.  They partially succeeded and he put up only modest numbers (comparable to the numbers Brown had put up), but that was while Belichick prioritized shutting him down.  And even then, when it really counted, Jones was almost unstoppable... he almost single handedly ended the 28-3 comeback with one of the most amazing catches I've seen.  Just seeing the team I follow face both receivers, in their primes, in quick succession, and put so much more effort into shutting down Jones than Brown, I came away with a strong impression that Julio Jones was the much more impressive of the two.  

126 Slightly

Disagree about Brown walking off the field in 2021, though maybe that’s the Bucs fan in me. The current thought amongst fans is right when he was working himself in shape was right when Godwin went out, so all of a sudden it became Evans, Gronk on his last legs, & nobody. Also, like you alluded to, Brown WALKING OFF THE FIELD MID-GAME IN THE MOST JACKASS WAY POSSIBLE is the polar opposite of TO coming back on one leg to grind out a heroic SB game. I really don’t think Brown doing that will be forgotten, especially since it was his 3rd team that basically needed him desperately but begged him to leave.

134 agree about TO

In reply to by liquidmuse3

At the risk of repeating myself, TO's Super Bowl was very impressive from my perspective as a fan of the opponent.  TO had his issues, but he played hard.