Antonio Brown and How We “Discuss” Mental Health

(NOTE: This was originally written 1/2/22, the evening after Antonio Brown was seen walking off of the field for the Tampa Bay Bucs during their game against the New York Jets. We have a lot of “he said/ they said” since but the general point still exists, that when it looks like a possible mental health/ damaged brain issue we still choose to make it a punchline rather than the conversation we need to be having. When that occurs I wonder how many, especially men, feel validated in their refusal to speak out about their own mental health struggles, and how many more horrible endings come as an unintended consequence? That was the mindset that drove me to write this on the spot.)

There was a point not so long ago where I’d be the first one blowing up social media with Antonio Brown memes and jokes. So, it doesn’t surprise me that is exactly what is happening.

Yeah, what he did today defies logic. Yup, this guy has done some pretty shitty things over the last few years, especially off the field and I’m not going to excuse those away. I hope I’m wrong but stories like Antonio Brown’s often end badly.

But we can’t make a guy like this a national punchline and then wonder why not enough of us feel safe talking about our mental health. It may happen subconsciously, but I suspect that for many that’s a part of why many of us don’t talk. The shame of having to hear that crap about us can be overpowering as hell, and for too many, the first we hear of their struggles is when something really bad happens.

I’m of course in no way a medical anything but I remember a nasty concussion AB took a few years back when he was still on the Steelers and people that might be more in the know have said there is a clear shift in his behavior since he took that hit. We know concussions can screw with our mental health in a big way, makes sense.

Also, CTE. Read up on that and be horrified.

Anyway, back to the point. I understand that I’m not going to get anyone to change their behavior by writing a post. Maybe I can offer a little different take on the situation for people to take or leave as they desire to.

Of course, it’s meant to be fun at the expense of some “clownshow” we saw on TV. Distant entertainment that means nothing in our regular lives, right? I get that.

But what if there’s someone out there struggling tonight and sees all these AB memes jokes and decides to stay quiet? Or worse? We all know that builds up and it eventually comes out, often in really bad ways.

Nobody with half a conscience wants that of course, but we can’t ever control how others respond to stuff despite our intent. Trust me, as a writer I’ve learned to accept that as soon as I hit “send” that I have zero control how anything I put out in the world is perceived.

It wouldn’t even dawn on me if I haven’t seen some shit, and with that in mind, I can’t have the fun at AB’s expense like I used to.

I hope that there’s a support system, and he hasn’t shut it out. I hope that this doesn’t end in the way I fear, and that nobody innocent becomes collateral damage in the process.

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Writer. Guide. Mentor. Visionary. Voice. Presence. Geeks out over MCU, Star Wars, baseball, and randomness. Question everything except your worth.

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Rich Levesque

Rich Levesque

Writer. Guide. Mentor. Visionary. Voice. Presence. Geeks out over MCU, Star Wars, baseball, and randomness. Question everything except your worth.

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