“I'm done with the rest of it,” Bill Belichick said in regards to questions about then-New England wide receiver Antonio Brown during his Friday morning press conference at Gillette Stadium.
The coach was being as honest as maybe he’s ever been with the media corps. Only at the time, they didn’t even know it.
Hours later, the Patriots released a statement acknowledging that they were releasing Brown less than two weeks after his arrival in New England. His time in Foxborough boiled down to a civil lawsuit accusing him of rape, a litany of minor missteps off the field and, four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown in his one and only career game playing with Tom Brady.
“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time,” read the statement, which came just a couple hours after Brown completed his final practice in New England.
Strangely, Brown’s tenure with the Patriots was shorter than his offseason-only time with the Raiders. His time tumultuous time in Oakland was measured in months, while his failed run with the Patriots was just days.
The final straw was a second Sports Illustrated story in less than a week, this one regarding supposed group text intimidation of a woman who’d previously alleged Brown had committed “sexual misconduct” against her, a claim that the receiver’s attorney had previously denied on Twitter.
But for Belichick and the Patriots, enough was enough. The guy who shot his way out of Pittsburgh and had anything but a honeymoon period in Oakland, just wasn’t worth the trouble, the distraction that he brought with him, almost endlessly, in his short time inside Gillette Stadium.
While Belichick has a long list of reclamation projects and success stories with guys with off-field issues, he clearly met his match in Brown. Brown was not Randy Moss or Corey Dillon. He didn’t conform, even for a second. He seemingly doesn’t have any idea what the meaning of honeymoon period is.
The former All-Pro clearly remains an elite talent on the field. But he also remains at best a seemingly uncontrollable, immature person off it who has little respect for anyone, either inside the football world or outside of it. And he may be much worse than that.
A day after Brown spoke with the media for the first time in New England, spewing how “grateful” he was to be playing for Belichick and with Brady, it became quite clear that he had no tangible future with a team that is considered the best in football, a defending Super Bowl champion looking quite capable of defending its title.
“I know there are questions about Antonio. We take all the situations with our team seriously and there are some things that we're looking into,” Belichick said earlier in his press conference.
With Brown, it seems the more you look the more you find. And outside the white lines of the football field, the more there is to dislike.
The Patriots took a shot, took a risk on a special talent that was worth the effort. They soon and relatively swiftly moved on from that talent, that clear distraction when it became clear that unlike past supposed problem players could work even under Belichick’s structured program in New England.
It is what is.
Now, it actually is what it was.
The Patriots will be fine without Brown.
The same may not be true about the troubled receiver.
But that’s someone else’s problem now.
Not Belichick’s, he’s “done with” it.