Antonio Brown: Falling star’s career blows up into funny memes

Antonio Brown imploded yet again after he refused to take the field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the New York Jets. Now the memes and jokes may finally put an end to his rollercoaster NFL career.

Come in number 84 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, your number is up.

Has there ever been a sportsman with so much talent yet so little awareness?

Antonio Brown is a brilliant football player: fast in space, great hands, incredible instincts, strength to break tackles... he has it all. He also has a self-destruct button.

For several years at the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was undoubtedly the best wide receiver in the NFL. He was Madden-come-to-life; an avatar of a footballer who looked to be controlled by a teenage Playstation genius who knew every duke, spin and dive combination there was to know.

NFL fans watching him rip his helmet, shirt and pads off before waving his way down the tunnel may have wondered if that same teenager had popped out for another Pepsi Max and left the controls for his toddler brother to find.

Blowing $1million dollars in 1 minute

In a game that is all about stat-lines, contracts and personal brands, this was career suicide of the highest order. A child-like meltdown. Sigmund Freud wouldn’t find a better example of ‘id’ in all its selfish glory. It also made for great TV with the clips repeated over and over to huge New-Year weekend audiences.

Apparently Brown’s refusal to get back onto the field could cost him up to $1million in bonuses but it will also cost him any shot at future rewards and recognition. There’ll be no jacket or photos on the wall - he can go straight into the Hall of Blame as it is sure to be everyone else's fault but his own.

So why do it? Thoughts are that he may have been carrying a niggling injury and didn’t want to play on it but that is hard to buy. This is American football, everyone is carrying some form of injury. Playing hurt is a badge of honour. It may not be right but it’s also no great secret - if the coach says get back onto the field at MetLife Stadium, you get back onto the field.

Had it all with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

To make things even more perplexing, he had the greatest NFL player of all time fighting his corner before this meltdown that follows on from issues at the Steelers, Oakland Raiders (where he didn’t play a game) and New England Patriots. He had stayed at Tom Brady’s home, Brady had brought him in from the cold and Brady was throwing him the ball. What more could a wide receiver want than the best quarterback to take a snap being their biggest cheerleader?

Brown had won a Superbowl last year, his team will be in the playoffs again this year looking for another Lombardi Trophy and he had dollars coming out of his ears. No life is perfect but I think most of us would take that.

Asked about Brown in his post-match press conference, Bucs coach Bruce Arians said: "He is no longer a Buc. That's the end of the story."

Definitive and final. The Brown circus has moved on and may never reopen.

Brown was a shooting star, now he is falling back down to Earth.

There’s a moment at the end of Netflix’s apocalyptic movie Don’t Look Up when Leonardo Di Caprio’s character looks back as everything falls apart and says: “We really did have everything, didn't we?

One day an ageing Brown will be sat in a rocking chair thinking exactly the same thing - and he won’t be able to blame a comet or anything else for the destruction of his own career.