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NFL: Would Antonio Brown be a good bet for the Hall of Fame … if he never played another down?

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Wideouts Antonio Brown (above) and Larry Fitzgerald share the NFL all-time record for most 100-catch seasons (six).

It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong; and I was wrong A LOT about Antonio Brown’s one crazy summer with the Raiders and Patriots in 2019.

For example …

**When photos of Brown’s frostbitten feet were initially released to the public, I thought, ‘No way he’s ready for Week 1 against the Broncos (the Raiders’ opponent).’

(Technically, I was right about not playing Denver, but it’s also not worth the humblebrag.)

**When Brown got into a reported scuffle with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock after training camp broke, I fully expected the club to immediately boot the enigmatic, high-strung receiver.

Instead, roughly 12 hours after the incident, head coach Jon Gruden stated Brown would be starting in the team’s opener.

**When the Raiders finally dropped Brown after his Instagram post during Labor Day weekend, stealthily demanding a release, I publicly stated on Twitter there was a “zero chance” of the Patriots signing Brown, given his checkered past with promoting locker-room harmony.

And guess what? There stood Brown in a Patriots uniform before Week 2, collecting four catches, eight targets, 56 yards and one touchdown against the Dolphins — and it could have easily been two scores, if quarterback Tom Brady hadn’t under-thrown Brown on a red-zone pass attempt.

So, given the above admissions, you’ll understand if I withhold any further bold predictions regarding Brown’s future, in lieu of the Patriots dumping the mercurial wideout before Week 3 of last year (due to off-field concerns) … and no other clubs making an effort to sign Brown the rest of 2019.

The term ‘dump’ comes with a somewhat ironic tone, since most Friday news dumps in politics and sports (often delivering bad news) typically get buried under the excitement of weekend plans.

Fast forward to the present: With all 32 NFL teams stuck in virtual mode until the start of training camp, due to the Coronavirus shutdown, it’s highly unlikely that Brown will be on an active roster for Week 1 this September — short of catastrophic injuries to a club’s cadre of top wideouts (and even then, it seems like a major stretch).

But hey, in this most surreal of years, would anyone be shocked if Brown became a weekly fixture in the NFL once again?

In the meantime, BATSBY Sports revisits a theme from last year, breaking down whether Brown (841 catches, 11,263 yards, 80 career TDs in only 131 games) still has a plausible shot at Canton glory.

Personal quirks aside.

THE CANTON CONUNDRUM

Would Brown be a relative Hall of Fame shoo-in, if he never played another down in the NFL?

It’s a fair question to ask.

On the plus side:

**From 2013-18, Brown posted six consecutive seasons of 100-plus catches (an NFL record).

**Along those lines, Brown and Larry Fitzgerald share the league’s all-time record for 100-catch seasons (six).

**During the six-year stretch referenced above, Brown possessed staggering averages of 114 catches, 1,524 yards and 11.2 touchdowns.

Put in greater context, just 17 other players in NFL history (Marvin Harrison, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Herman Moore, Cris Carter, Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice, Wes Welker, Isaac Bruce, Brandon Marshall, Torry Holt, Zach Ertz, Jimmy Smith, Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Christian McCaffrey) have caught 115-plus balls in a single campaignand only Harrison, Welker and Carter accomplished the feat twice.

**Charting the top 10 single seasons with receiving yards, only Brown cracks this elite-level listing twice.

**Brown stands as one of only 24 pass-catchers in NFL history to notch 15 or more receiving touchdowns in a single season.

**Brown ranks 28th all-time with receptions (841), 35th in receiving yards (11,263) and 34th with receiving touchdowns (75) — eclipsing the numbers of guys who already reside in the Hall of Fame.

**With the Steelers, Brown made seven Pro Bowl squads and took All-Pro honors four different times. As a worthy career comp, Wes Welker, Andre Reed (Hall of Fame), Torry Holt and Hall of Famer Art Monk registered four cumulative trips to the All-Pro squad.

On the negative side …

**A handful of now-retired players have outperformed Brown in either receptions, receiving yards or receiving touchdowns … and yet, they’re not in the Hall of Fame.

Signature talents like Herman Moore, Welker, Holt, Jimmy Smith, Roddy White and Mark Clayton.

**Fair or not, ‘borderline’ greats still need the media’s approval to reach the Hall of Fame; and given Brown’s temperamental ways and occasionally tense bouts with the press, his Canton candidacy would require the help of a Pittsburgh (or national) writer with persuasive powers.

**Brown could become the first Hall of Fame consideration during the #MeToo movement.

It’ll be an interesting test case, roughly six years after Brown retires from the game.

Or whenever the game’s done with him (which might have already occurred).

The only thing for certain: Remember Anthony Scaramucci, who ran the White House communications for President Donald J. Trump … for a grand total of 10 or 11 days (depending on whom you ask)?

Well, the term “Scaramucci’d” now has a co-brander in Brown, whose 11 days with the Patriots last year (one game of 4 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD) was equal parts fruitful, fascinating, mysterious and utterly pointless (since New England mauled Miami in Week 2).

Perhaps Brown and Scaramucci could join forces to co-host a talk show on cable TV.

The ratings would have been great … at least for the first two weeks.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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