With Antonio Brown possibly taking his last NFL snap, many are reflecting on whether the controversial wideout will ever enter the Hall of Fame.
Is Antonio Brown a Hall of Famer?
The answer is complex as it is to appreciate what Brown has accomplished.
Yes, Brown is a supremely talented payer at his position as arguably the best route-runner in the 2010s, cutting and connecting with Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady for years until he caught a Super Bowl touchdown and earned a ring in Tampa.
If he never plays another game, his 928 receptions are 21st all-time, his 12,291 yards are 24th all-time and his 83 touchdowns is also 24th all-time. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro and had a string of six consecutive seasons with more than 100 receptions and 1,200 yards.
The numbers make his case.
Then again, Tony Toe-Tap also garnered fame for all the wrong reasons in ways that the NFL community would be reluctant to honor. Brown has a long history of off-field transgressions, including sexual assault, which he settled in a lawsuit with his former trainer.
If recent Buccaneers reports are indeed true, Brown dishonored the game in the most flamboyant way possible, quitting mid-game because he was disappointed with his low target share.
Will Antonio Brown be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
While Brown’s statistical achiecements are better than many receivers in the Hall of Fame, he likely faces barrier to entry.
Although he shudders at the comparison, Terrell Owens faced discrimination in HOF consideration because many believed he had character issues. Owens, who was first-ballot talent, waited three years to be inducted, and Owens had “arguably the second greatest statistical output for a wide receiver in NFL history.”
No matter what the Hall of Fame committee claims, it is an imperfect committee comprised of human beings with their respective biases and moral compasses. Even if they’re not supposed to consider off-field behavior, they certainly do.
Darren Sharper will likely never be considered for the Hall of Fame, and the incredibly talented Owens had to wait three years because he corrected journalists on how to say his name and the like.
The diva wide receiver trope unfairly bars many wideouts on receiving the recognition they deserve, because to some extent, one’s personality should have no bearing on what one accomplishes between the sidelines.
But for Brown, the debate would be contested even more than Owens. Despite his contributions to the game, perhaps his offenses off the field will crack under the bronze weight of Hall of Fame scrutiny.