The CMU Mentor Who May Have Kept Antonio Brown Sane
For almost eight whole seasons, Antonio Brown, while far from perfect, kept the lid on his crazy. And then this summer he went off the rails. Could it be because his Central Michigan mentor died?
Antonio Brown dug his own NFL grave over the weekend with a series of tweets that blamed everyone in the football world for his problems except for one person, himself.
As a long time Central Michigan University football fan, I've followed his career since he left CMU after helping the team to the MAC title his junior year.
And while Brown has always had his issues, most stemming from a difficult childhood while growing up in Florida, he had never quite flown off the rails like he did when he reported to Oakland Raider training camp in July.
First, it was burning his feet in a cryochamber, then it was his helmet, then a physical altercation with management. I can't recall his ego ever rearing its ugly head this badly.
If that wasn't enough, his past mistreatment of women emerged, painting the former Chippewa in a very bad light. He then texted on of his alleged victims and threatened her, forcing the New England Patriots, who had given Brown one last chance, to sever their ties with him.
I'm not condoning Brown's actions, especially when it comes to his sexual misconduct with women, but a small tagline in the Sports Illustrated article released last week may offer an explanation on why the pouty wide receiver has seemingly lost his mind.
In the article, the author, Robert Klemko, points out that before this summer, Brown had mentors in Pittsburgh Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin, former CMU coach Butch Jones, and a Michigan State Police Officer named Michael White.
White, a community liaison officer for the MSP was also team chaplain for the Central Michigan University football team, passed away unexpectedly of heart attack in June. He was just 62 years old.
When he died, the tributes to what White meant to the young men around the Mount Pleasant school and community were long and heart felt.
Antonio Brown seems to be a deeply troubled person, and many of his most nefarious actions came while White was still alive. But the fact that he has lost all sense of perspective since White's death may be the sign of a man grieving from a deep loss.
As Toriano Brooks, Brown's old high school coach put it in the SI article:
“Tony is a person who needs that guidance. There are some kids that have been in Tony’s situation who are doing fine. you see them every once in a while and they go about their business. But he needs that one person. He needs to have that individual in his life to say, ‘Tony you’re really hurting yourself right now.’”
Maybe Michael White was that guy. If he was, I hope Antonio finds another mentor, and fast, because he obviously needs help.