I’m wondering if Antonio Brown gets a Super Bowl ring at Bob Kraft’s house next year.
And I’m wondering if the fans who purchased Antonio Brown jerseys from the Patriot Pro Shop for $99.99 will get their money back.
Hope not. The grinning, dopey guy we featured on these pages Friday — hoisting his No. 17 Patriots jersey at Gillette Stadium — deserves a financial hit for abject stupidity.
On Friday afternoon, when it became obvious that the Brown situation was only going to get worse, the Patriots finally, grudgingly caved and released the talented but toxic wideout.
Brown already had been cut loose by Nike and a helmet manufacturer, but the Patriots did not act until it was learned that Brown on Wednesday night sent intimidating, shaming group texts to a second female accuser who alleged that he made an unwanted sexual advance toward her and who had told her story to Sports Illustrated. Included in the group texts were photos of the accuser’s children. What a guy.
The spineless, silent Bob Kraft and the Patriots get no points for this move. No social justice medal. This is not 1996 when the late Myra Kraft successfully urged her husband to dump draft pick Christian Peter as soon as it was learned that the Nebraska linebacker was a sexual predator.
In this instance, the Patriots failed to do anything when it mattered. They ceded the moral high ground. The record will show that the holy trinity of Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady was all in on this guy. The Patriots played Brown against the Miami Dolphins (a 43-0 win in which Brown caught four passes, including a touchdown) with full knowledge that Brown was facing a rape allegation.
As usual, Kraft tried to have it both ways. He never said a word when the Patriots agreed to terms with Brown hours after the receiver got himself fired in Oakland. He never said anything when the sexual offense allegations surfaced two days later. He never said anything when it became clear that Brown would play Sunday in Miami.
Instead, the owner used his media cartel to float the notion that he never would have brought Brown to Foxborough if he had known about the impending lawsuit.
Not good enough. In January, when the Patriots owner was snagged in a prostitution sting in Florida, Kraft apologized and said, “I have extraordinary respect for women . . . I expect to be judged not by my words, but by my actions.’’
The team’s announcement of Brown’s release at 4:13 p.m. Friday was awash in cautious language. We got “appreciate the hard work” and “best to move in a different direction.’’ There was nothing about the seriousness of the allegations against Brown. Nothing about respect for women.
Brady is hardly covered with glory in this one. The day it was announced that Brown had been signed, Brady told his agent that Brown would be welcome to stay at the Brady home. He told Kraft he was “a million percent in” on Brown. Then, after the allegations surfaced, Brady stepped back and said, “Things that don’t involve me, don’t involve me.”
Of course, this didn’t stop Brown from heading over to Brady’s TB12 emporium, and sending out an Instagram post, yukking it up with Brady trainer Alex Guerrero and promoting the workout facility.
Belichick was consistent if nothing else.
The diabolical coach has never talked about “the Patriot Way.’’ He has hired a rogues gallery of talent, many of whom straightened out when they got to Foxborough. But one of the great Patriot myths is that all the troublemakers turn things around when they come to Gillette Stadium. Albert Haynesworth did not. Chad Ochocinco did not. Aaron Hernandez did not.
And Antonio Brown did not.
New England’s Fanboy Nation can relax now that Brown is gone. Members of the cult spent the last 11 days justifying Brown’s presence on the Patriots roster. They were suddenly all about civil liberties. Like the Patriots, they were all in on this creep. Because of his talent. And some of them will worry now that “we might lose him to the Chiefs or the Cowboys.’’
Releasing Brown will save New England from the embarrassment of 68,000 yahoos cheering for Brown against the Jets on Sunday. Now the locals are free to rain boos on the head of Brown if he returns later in the season with the Chiefs or Cowboys.
Winning Super Bowls is what the Patriots and their fans are all about. And they are good at it. But the Kraft name and the Patriot brand took a hit on this one. The Patriots didn’t do anything about the situation until it was obvious that the league was going to intercede. They needlessly, arrogantly allowed Brown to play in a game. He will always be a shameful part of their history.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.