Despite a January arrest (he pleaded no contest, receiving community service, probation and court-mandated anger management in lieu of jail time) and multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, players across the NFL continue to sing Antonio Brown’s praises. The 32-year-old made waves recently by retiring and un-retiring, all within a few days' span last week. While Brown’s recent flip-flopping act doesn’t exactly scream “stability,” it’s not enough to dissuade Lamar Jackson, who would love to see the seven-time Pro Bowler wind up in Baltimore.
“He’s a great guy. He’s cool, down to earth,” said Jackson, who got a chance to work with the former Steelers and Patriots receiver this offseason. “He’s passionate about the sport of football.” Jackson, who led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes en route to MVP honors last season (he also became just the second quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards), was particularly taken by the veteran’s work ethic, noting Brown’s impressive dedication to his craft.
"He's going to go 24/7," said Jackson, who became acquainted with AB through teammate Marquise Brown (Brown’s cousin). “Prior to the workout, he lifted. We go out there, throwing routes, and after that, he lifted some more. I’m like, ‘there’s no quit in this guy.’”
While the teams he scorned might disagree, Jackson sees Brown as an ideal teammate, believing he’d thrive in Baltimore’s tightknit locker room. “He's the type of guy we need in our locker room and I feel like the locker room here is different from any other locker room. It's a brotherhood going on,” Jackson remarked in comments to Todd Karpovich of Sports Illustrated. “None of that outside noise. We worry about each other, we worry about what we have going on. We want to win.”
Jackson may have tipped his hand with that last quote. After losing a heartbreaker to Tennessee in last year’s playoffs, adding a player of Brown’s elite caliber to what was already one of the league’s top offenses could make the Ravens close to unstoppable. But at what cost? Others including Russell Wilson have been eager to work with Brown despite his checkered past and affinity for stirring up locker-room chaos, likely seeing the controversial wideout as the missing ingredient in Seattle’s championship stew. Brown even has Hall of Famer Deion Sanders stumping for him.
In a morally ambiguous league, it’s not wrong to assume at least one of the 32 teams would be willing to take on AB’s baggage (and the subsequent PR hit that comes from signing a player of such dubious character) if it brought them closer to a Lombardi Trophy. But after burning bridges in Pittsburgh, Oakland and New England, all within a few months’ time, how much leash would the erratic Brown have upon his NFL return? That’s what the Ravens and others will need to gauge before taking the plunge on one of the most talented and simultaneously toxic receivers in recent memory.